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Smash impress at USSSA World Series
A year ago at this time, the Tri County Smash 10-and-under competitive softball team placed 17th in a field of 36 at the ASA Western National Championships in Las Vegas.

The Ceres-based club had an even better finish to its 2009 campaign. Tri County took third at the USSSA Fast Pitch World Series, held July 27-Aug. 1, at Disney's Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Fla. The Smash earned individual medals and a team award.

"This is big for our area," manager Mary Hackbarth. "I'm extremely proud of the girls. They were amazing. They worked very hard for it."

Tri County's stellar play over the first five days of the tournament created quite a buzz. The Smash reeled off seven straight victories before suffering back-to-back losses in the medal round.

"The long week got to them," Hackbarth said. "Our legs were a little tired. We just couldn't get our bats going. We hit the ball hard and the other teams made some plays. We didn't get any breaks."

Tri County outscored its opponents, 57-14, during the course of the 31-team tournament.

The Smash collected wins against Indy Edge/Team Combat (4-0), Lake Shore Lightning (3-0), Bordentown Bandits (15-0), East Coast Tsunami (14-2), Total Impact 98 (8-3), Texas Terminators (6-2) and Miami Wildcats (6-1).

"The kids performed extremely well," Hackbarth said. "Our defense was almost flawless."

Tri County lost to eventual-champion Ultimate Fast Pitch (3-1) and runner-up Xtreme Fast Pitch (3-0) on a hot, humid Saturday.

Pitcher Madilyn Nickles, catcher Madison Hackbarth and shortstop Nicole Bates were named to the all-tournament team.

Smash players, coaches and fans returned home Monday night.

Tri County has a lot to be proud of because none of the organization's other teams have placed as high at nationals or worlds. The Smash compiled a 37-8-1 overall record.

"The girls have to be happy with what they've done," Hackbarth said.

Tri County will compete in the 12-and-under division next season.