EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 15, 2013

Firebirds U14 softball team preps for nationals

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Add another squad to the “Worst to First” category: The 2013 New England Firebirds U14 softball team.

Four years ago, many girls from this team were part of 1-28 team and now the group is representing Massachusetts in NSA U14 World Series in Williamsburg, Va. from July 21-28.

“ I have coached many teams in my years of coaching and all of them have had a special place in my heart,” said head coach Ed Aziz, who is softball director of Ripp City Baseball & Softball Academy in Bradford. “But this team is special. We don’t have the superstars other organizations have, but this team has proven that when you play together and create a family atmosphere, anything is possible.”

The Firebirds have played nearly every weekend since late April, overcoming several rain-chilled games and 90-plus degree affairs. The team also some good news recently when two of its top players, Emily Frocione (broken foot) and Emily Mendonca (shoulder), of Methuen, referred to as “Em & Em,” returned to action after tough injuries.

Pitcher Jillian Aziz, of Plaistow, N.H., and catcher Gabi Hillner, of Haverhill, have also been key players throughout the season.

“When the season started I asked the players what their goal was for this season,” said Aziz. “All 13 players said the same thing: They wanted to go to Nationals, And now we’re going. They’ve achieved their goal. I couldn’t be prouder.”