CANONSBURG – Thirteen players made the early morning trek to C-Side Sports Academy in North Strabane Township Friday morning to chase a dream.
Ashley Carter had the longest trip: 2,418 miles.
Carter flew in from Fontana, Calif., located just 30 minutes from Disneyland, to attend the open tryout for the Pennsylvania Rebellion, the National Pro Fastpitch team headquartered at Consol Energy Park.
The 23-year-old Carter, a graduate of Cal State-Fullerton, is a speedy outfielder, just the type of player the Rebellion might be looking for to lead off a lineup. At least, she hopes that is what Rebellion manager Rick Bertagnolli is thinking.
“I think it went well,” said Carter, who like the rest were tested in their ability to field, throw, run, hit and work well with others, especially on double plays.
“You are never resting out there, and I like that. I feel like I showed them what I can do.”
This is the second NPF tryout for Carter, an outfielder with powerful legs on a slight frame.
She made the trip from Fontana to Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 18, sleeping most of the way on the 10-hour, 442-mile trip before arriving at 3 a.m. the day it was held.
“It can get pretty expensive,” said Carter. “I’ve been using my credit card. I’m in debt now, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
The tryout ran four hours, and the reward was a lunch of pizza and a drink, compliments of the Rebellion. Now, the waiting process begins. Bertagnolli promises to begin breaking down the tape of the tryout and get back to each participant to tell them the good, or bad, news.
“I think this tryout, the historic first for the Rebellion, went extremely well,” said Bertagnolli, who doubles as the head softball coach at California University. “I saw some athletes we would be extremely interested in.”
Bertagnolli said the Rebellion currently has four players on a roster that can be as large as 23. Bertagnolli expects the Rebellion to be just under that number when the season opens May 30 against the defending league champion USSSA Pride in a game played in Salisbury, Md.
“We’re looking at everything, just not one thing,” Bertagnolli said. “Speed is an attribute. Ball-handling, pitching and catching is important. Besides that, we look at character. That’s important.”
Victoria Rumpf, a volunteer softball coach at Youngstown State University, also made the trip. Rumpf, who played on the Canadian National Team at the 2013 World Cup and Pan American Championships, hopes to make it as either a catcher or third baseman. Not only did she flash a good glove, but had a quick release of strong throws, something that gets the attention of coaches.
“I practice a lot on my own,” said Rumpf, a 22-year-old native of Drayton, Ontario, a place she said “has one traffic light.”
“I felt pretty good about it. I’ve been playing baseball forever. I started throwing when I was 4 or 5.”
Rumpf has hobbies. She played goalie for the Cambridge Fury, a junior league team in Ontario province, and also spent time on some of the boys hockey teams in the area.
“It was pretty cool,” she said.
The Rebellion will hold another tryout in May on a date to be determined. Some players who wanted to attend this one were stranded by the snowstorm along the East coast and could not make the trip.
Other players who did make it included Megan Talbot, a multiple-position player who travelled from Lorton, Va., in seven hours, three more than normal because of the storm-ravaged mountain passes. Two other players – Kaitlyn Saluga, a 23-year-old catcher and outfielder; and Samantha Pientack, a 23-year-old catcher – played in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, Saluga for Slippery Rock and Pientack for Bloomsburg.
“We’ll make a decision soon,” Bertagnolli said. “There is no time frame. Just in the near future.”