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Top Gun squad takes aim at Pony Nationals

first_imgBY SHAWN LAYTON Staff Writer BY SHAWN LAYTONStaff Writer EDISON — The Top Gun 18-and-under softball team of Edison is competing in the Pony Nationals, one of the country’s premier softball tournaments with 160 teams in action, this week in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The opening ceremony at Dolphins Stadium, home of the 2003 World Series Champions Florida Marlins, kick-started the tournament Tuesday night with teams from all over the country in attendance. Prior to the Pony Nationals, Top Gun’s 18-under and 16-under teams competed in the Rising Star Tournament among 82 other teams. Also held in Florida, the Rising Star Tournament is another high-profile tournament with teams from California and Texas making the trip. The 18-under team went 3-3 at Rising Star, while their younger counterparts finished at 3-2-1. The 16-under team plays in the National Fast Tournament this week, yet another Sunshine State competition. “The purpose of these tournaments is to showcase the kids in front of college coaches,” Top Gun head coach Tony Houck said. “Coaches from North Carolina, Georgetown, George Washington and Swarthmore were in attendance, and even more are expected at Pony Nationals.” At Rising Star, the 18-under team opened the tournament with a 6-1 win over Texas Select, but lost the next, a 6-3 defeat to the Massachusetts Mud Dogs. Top Gun lost its second in a row 2-0 to First Coast out of Jacksonville, Fla. The team turned things around to win its next two, a 6-3 win over the Tampa Spartans and a 3-0 win over the Jacksonville Titans. Top Gun lost its final game at Rising Star to the San Jose Slammers 3-0. J.P. Stevens graduate Christine Sendelski and Chrissy Yard, a graduate of Hillsborough High School, are two of the many stellar players on the 18-under team. “Christine had a really good tournament at Rising Star, and brings a good attitude and good speed to the field,” Houck said. “Chrissy pitches and plays first base and was named the Somerset County Player of the Year this spring.” Sendelski is off to Swarthmore in the fall, while Yard will join the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers this year. Another Yard, Chrissy’s younger sister, Katie, is turning heads at the Florida tournaments and looks to be another standout player in Somerset County. “Katie plays third base and she’s really hitting the ball well,” Houck said. “Hillsborough has something to look forward to with her coming through their program.” Another sister duo of Katie and Kim Eder from St. John Vianney, Holmdel, make Top Gun even stronger. Katie adds another high-profile player of Chrissy Yard’s caliber, as she was named to both All-Parochial and All-State teams this spring. Katie went into Rising Star batting .387 and she doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon. Kim, a soon-to-be sophomore, plays the infield and outfield, and has fully recovered from some arm trouble she developed in the spring. “She’s back into the swing of things,” Houck said. “She had three hits in her first seven at bats to start Rising Star.” Colleen Cyriak and Trish Alluto joined the team on Friday to finish out the Rising Star Tournament and will compete at Pony Nationals. Cyriak is off to Farleigh Dickinson in the fall, while Alluto will attend Pace University. “Since they are already committed to colleges we had them come down Friday,” Houck said. “They bring a lot to the team and we expect big things from them at Pony Nationals.” A pair of players from Pingry is also expected to be major contributors this week. Kristin Maletsky and Caitlyn Fitzgerald will return to Pingry this fall for their senior year. Both Maletsky and Fitzgerald scored over 2200 on the SATs and are sure to have the interest of many coaches this week. “Caitlyn is coming off a torn ACL she suffered in March and is still playing with a brace,” Houck said. “Despite the injury she continues to hit the ball well and has been moved over to second base from shortstop to limit some of her lateral movement until fully healed.” Maletsky’s speed allows her to cover a lot of ground in the outfield and run well on the base paths. “Kristin hits to all fields and is a very good bunter,” Houck said. “She brings a lot to the team because of her quickness.” This summer was the second year Top Gun competed at Rising Star and the fifth year at Pony Nationals. “We play a very competitive schedule,” Houck said. “Our goal is to get our kids into college whether they play softball or not. That’s why we take them to tournaments, where they can be seen by the most coaches.”last_img read more