North Bellmore-North Merrick Little League squad crowned state champs

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In the East Region Invitational Tournament, the Lady Rebels beat the state champions from Delaware and Maryland on Aug. 3 and 4 before losing to the champions from New Jersey and Connecticut on Aug. 6 and 7. The East Region Invitational Tournament, which this year featured a team from every state from Maryland to Maine except New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, is the highest level of Little League play in which the Lady Rebels could compete.

“The girls handled it with a lot of enthusiasm…,” said Tarantino’s wife, Kathy. “They came back in the bottom of the sixth several times.” Teams in the Lady Rebels’ age division play six-inning games.

Simone said he was “amazed” by the girls’ performance. “Before the season, I had a good feeling we’d win district and sectionals,” he said. “I had no idea we’d win state.”

Behind every one of the Lady Rebels’ successes were the girls’ families. Parents and sibling accompanied them on the trips to Fishkill and Old Forge, many using precious vacation days. The North Bellmore-North Merrick Little League provided $3,600 for hotel rooms in Fishkill, but no money for rooms in Old Forge, so parents helped raise $4,500 from local companies to support the team. They also paid out-of-pocket for some of their travel costs.

After the Lady Rebels won the state title, Knowles hosted a pool party for the girls at his house. Simone said that the team was planning another party over the Labor Day weekend to celebrate its season. Jerry Marino, the Little League’s president, said that it was planning a ceremony at Gunther Field to honor the squad, but at press time the league had not set a date.

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