It took nearly 12 hours, three games, and a four-hour rain delay, but the EHT 12U Tornadoes would do it all again in a heartbeat. A team that didn’t win a single game in pool play as a 10U squad two years ago is now a Babe Ruth Softball World Series champion.

The Tornadoes were involved in a best-of-3 championship series all day today against a tough team from Buffalo, W.Va., the No. 2 seed of the remaining four teams from the semifinals, with the Tornadoes winning Game 1 by a score of 7-2 and Buffalo responding with a 5-2, eight-inning victory in Game 2, setting up a winner-takes-all Game 3 that was delayed halfway through with EHT leading 4-2. Play finally resumed at about 8 p.m. — from a game that began at 3 in the afternoon — and once again EHT had to wiggle out of a bases-loaded, no-out jam in the final inning, just as it did in the semifinals against Louisiana on Thursday.

With Elianna Meola, who pitched EHT to victory in Game 1, inside the circle, Denver Obermeyer caught a pop-up at third base, then second baseman Evangelina Kim turned a double play to end it, tagging the base runner then throwing to first to secure the 4-2 victory, and the World Series championship.

“Unbelievable. Incredible,” said Tornadoes assistant coach Dave Del Re. “They had a girl (on Buffalo) who hit two home runs (in the series), so we were trying to get girls out ahead of her so she came up with nobody on base. At the end of the game, the girls said, ‘we finished the story for our children and grandkids that we started at districts, states and regionals.’ It’s just incredible.

“Ellie Meola pitched her butt off, but you could list every girl on this team and each one contributed in a huge way all week. There were so many girls who had a big play or a big moment. Each and every one of these girls deserve the credit and the recognition for working hard all winter, in the snow, playing in the rain, playing in cold weather, in hot weather, missing their friends, parties, sleepovers — and they did it all to sacrifice for today,” Del Re continued. “They really remind me — and it’s hard to compare anybody to the 1980 USA hockey team — but the team we played yesterday, they were the equivalent of the Soviet Union in those Olympics. They didn’t give up a run (before playing us), so we had a tall order coming in. And being on a huge high coming into today but knowing we had a lot more to do to close it out, and winning that first game was huge. They call (the Little Leaguers) the ‘Boys of Summer,’ and these girls have earned ‘The Girls of Summer’ title for the rest of their lives.”

The Tornadoes went 3-1 in pool play in the 19-team tournament, earned a bye into the quarterfinals, then beat Colorado and topped No. 1 seed Louisiana in the semis before going 2-1 in the championship series. For the week, EHT was 7-2 and got offensive and defensive contributions from up and down the lineup that included Meola, Kim, Obermeyer, Allison Amadio, Gianna Gonzalez, Michaela Schlemo, Shelby Barnes, Isabella D’Agostino, Mary Del Re, Brielle Boutot and Ashlyn Warker, and coaches John and Mariealena D’Agostino, Dave Del Re and Ray Murdock.

Here’s some of the reactions from coaches and players:

Meola: “It’s very exciting, because we won districts, states, regionals, and our goal was to win the World Series. We had to fight and we had to do it together, as a team, so I’m very proud. (Buffalo) had really powerful hitters and they could slam the ball over the fence, so I had to just keep calm and know I had a good defense there to back me up. I was so happy (when Eva turned that double play), we were all jumping up and down and going crazy.”

Mary Del Re: “When I saw Eva make the last out, it didn’t really process in my head that we just won the World Series. When I realized it, I was freaking out. I can’t believe we came this far as a team, and I’m so proud of everyone.”

Kim: “I wasn’t expecting it to come to me, but I caught it. Dude, it’s awesome! I can’t even process how many people were watching us (on Facebook Live). I know all my family was. It’s just crazy. It’s a little hard to process right now. It’s really cool.”

Amadio: “I freaked out. I’m still processing that we won the World Series. When I saw Eva get that double play, I started jumping up and down, I threw my helmet to the side because I was so excited.”

Coach Dave Del Re: “As soon as Eva tagged the girl and threw to first, the scorebook went up in the air, we were charging out of that dugout. I can’t even tell you, it’s all a blur what happened after that. It was just a big sea of EHT Tornadoes blue hugging and cheering.”

“We don’t even know what time it is, what day it is. It’s like we’re on a softball island right now. It’s so nice that everybody was sending all those messages of love and support from home. It’s incredible.”

Rainout fun: During the nearly four-hour rain delay, both EHT and Buffalo had some fun, playing a game of tic-tac-toe on a softball that they would run back and forth between the two dugouts.

“We stayed in the same hotel as Buffalo all week, so we were friends all week and cheering each other on in our respective games,” coach Del Re said. “During the rain delay they were doing tic-tac-toe on the ball, sending it back and forth. We took a picture with both teams and signed a ball with all the players on each team. It was unbelievable. An amazing moment.”

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