Family, friends and softball come together in memorable year
By Kyle LoJacono
The 2010 Lutz Leaguerettes spring slow pitch Pigtail Division champion is team 2 Hot 2 Handle.
The team also finished second in all of Hillsborough County and had four county all stars representatives. While all the players and coaches are excited about their accomplishments, it was a little bit sweeter for two families – the Zambitos and the Cuervos.
“I’ve coached in the Pigtails Division for seven years now,” said 2 Hot 2 Handle coach Frank Zambito. “…They are a very well-rounded team. We had great defense when we needed it, but they were primarily a hitting team. Everyone contributed.”
The team finished the season 24-3, which gave them the Lutz pigtails crown. Girls in the division are between 10 and 13-years-old.
Frank, 45, has coached all four of his daughters in the league and his youngest, Kellie, was a member of the 2010 squad. The coach said Kellie, 12, has almost grown up on a softball field watching her older sisters.
“It’s always more fun when you win and when your team is nice,” said Kellie, who is a sixth grader at Martinez Middle. “It was so much fun because everyone got along on the team and a lot of us knew each other from school. We knew we could win every game as long as we tried our best.”
Kellie plays first base and said she loves playing softball. She plans to continue to play for many more seasons.
“It has been special to coach all of my daughters and it’s nice when they can win the division,” Frank said. “My twins won pigtails a couple years ago too…I’ve loved coaching all the players and it was great to see how much they’ve grown this season.”
Sisters Lauren and Hailey Cuervo were also members of 2 Hot 2 Handle, as was their cousin Gina Klare.
“It was really fun to play with them,” Hailey, 11, said of playing with her sister and cousin. “We got to have sleepovers after games and have fun playing softball.”
The Cuervos’ mother Karen, who is the league’s secretary and director of fundraising, said siblings are always placed on the same team if they are in the same division, but does not guarantee other relatives will be grouped together.
“Players are drafted before the season and we asked if Gina could be on the same team as Lauren and Hailey because we were her main source of transportation to the field,” Karen said. “The league was good enough to make that happen.”
Lutz Leaguerettes break each season into three parts. To win the division a team has to have the most wins in two of the three portions. The team managed to take home the division title by winning its last 10 straight games.
Lutz Leaguerettes teams play at Oscar Cooler Sports Complex on W. Lutz-Lake Fern Road and players come primarily from Lutz, Land O’ Lakes and Odessa. The Lutz division had nine teams this spring and each squad had between 11 and 13 players.
Hillsborough has five locations for Leaguerettes leagues. The Lutz complex is one of the larger facilities, but other fields are in Temple Terrace, north Tampa, Town ‘N’ Country and Brandon. Lutz hosted the county tournament in May, where Frank said his favorite moment of the season happened.
“I would have to say one of the most memorable occasions was when Gina Klare (catcher) tried all year to catch a foul ball and when she did the entire team surrounded her and hugged her,” Frank said. “The smile on her face said it all.”
The team came up one win short of the county championship, but 2 Hot 2 Handle still sent four representatives to Hillsborough’s all-star tournament in Temple Terrace. Those who made the county team include second baseman Mackenzie Tate, pitcher Jasmin Trent, shortstop and outfielder Destiny Aplin and shortstop and third baseman Madison Reinhard.
Lauren, who also attends Martinez with her sister, said her favorite memory from the season was avenging a loss.
“We played a team in Brandon and lost, but we came back and beat them by 11 runs,” Lauren, 12, said. “That felt great because we didn’t lose many games this year, so it was great to come back and beat them.”
Lauren plays in the outfield and also caught for 2 Hot 2 Handle.
Hailey, third base, said her favorite moment was making a diving catch on a line drive in fair territory to end an inning. Kellie said she also likes making sliding catches, but could not remember any one in particular.
Lutz Leaguerettes has several summer softball camps in June, July and August and will start registration for its fall season Aug. 2. For more information on the league, visit www.lutzleaguerettes.com.