Athletes of the Week
Climbing to the top
August 11, 2010 - Rachel Vieira and Alex Favazza, of Clarkston, knew it would be a tough fight for their team Finesse Fastpitch 12U at the PONY National Tournament in Cary, North Carolina in July.
One loss had put the team into the loser's bracket and another loss would finish the season.
"We knew we could come back because we had before," said Favazza, remembering the 4-2 loss to CJ Lighting from New Jersey.
Vieira kept her eyes on the ball catching pop ups in centerfield and not holding back when it came to throwing the opponent out of the game. Favazza worked her talents in the outfield and as pitcher.
"We had to step up, have no mistakes and work harder than we had before," Vieira said.
One by one they took other teams in the tournament out and landed in the top eight for a chance at the championship.
As the tournament neared the close on July 22, Finesse Fastpitch had taken the title from the undefeated Delaware Express in four innings in 100 degree weather, 10-0.
"It was a great accomplishment for my team and me," said Favazza. "We have worked so hard throughout the season. Our conditioning from the winter and the season helped us get to the last game. We weren't as tired as most teams. They only played five teams and we played 15 teams."
Throughout the five day tournament Finesse scored 85 runs for the team and had only 29 runs against them.
They finished the season with an overall record, 56-7.
The team won eight of their ten tournaments including the USSSA State Championship. They beat MI Athletics in Canton on July 11, 8-5.
"It was exciting to win states, too," said Vieira. "All the hard work from practice paid off."
Finesse Fastpitch 12U team is coached by Paul Nieto, of South Lyon, and John Sobjczak, of Bloomfield, as assistant and Dave Payne, of Plymouth, for pitching.
Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.