America's Team from New Hampshire (red shirts) joined a Spanish team for a picture following action last month. Gilford's Lisa Osborne and Sarah Lachapelle spent eight days in Spain playing against local competition. Courtesy Photo. (click for larger version)
August 18, 2014GILFORD — For eight days this summer, Sarah Lachapelle and Lisa Osborne found themselves playing softball in a very different place than Gilford, New Hampshire.
Lachapelle, a soon-to-be junior pitcher, and Osborne, a recently graduated third baseman on the GHS varsity team, took the trip of a lifetime with America's Team, an all-star lineup of Granite Staters who traveled to play games in three cities in Spain.
The team, which was coached by Portsmouth High School's Kim Grenon, featured all Division I and II players, with the two Golden Eagles being the lone D-III contributors.
"They were all really good players," said Lachapelle of the team. "Every position had someone good at it."
The process for joining America's Team began with a nomination, followed by letters of recommendation. The program wanted strong students in the classroom in addition to strong softball players, with everyone needing to have played varsity ball in the spring.
The team had some workouts on the Seacoast leading up to the summer months, with fundraising opportunities also being mixed in. There was a scrimmage right before departing for Spain, with the trip running July 14-22.
The visit to Spain brought the team to Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona, with doubleheaders in each city against local competition. The second of the two games in each city saw the squads split up, giving players a chance to compete alongside their Spanish counterparts.
"Softball isn't really a big thing over there," explained Osborne of the level of competition. "Some of the fields were nice with red clay infields and stuff but one field was basically a soccer field with bases and stuff set up."
The players on the teams in Spain ranged in age from about 14-27, and there were certainly many differences between how they approached the game. Physical things like no face cages on helmets were noticeable right away.
"I really had no idea what to expect from the teams going into it," said Lachapelle. "Most of the players could communicate some English with us but everywhere we went they all spoke differently."
In addition to the actual softball, there was plenty of sight-seeing to be had. The pair said they visited a lot of cathedrals, and they traveled around with a baseball team made up of players from Maryland.
"The beaches were great," said Osborne. "And we had perfect weather. It was hot but it was a dry heat so it wasn't too bad."
Lachapelle said her favorite part of the trip wound up being the games themselves.
"The games were just so different than they are over here," she explained. "I really liked the experience. And I didn't really know anyone on the team before I joined so it was really interesting to get to know each other."
Osborne saw time at shortstop on the trip, as well as outfield and second base. Lachapelle also played some second base and outfield, and she saw two innings in the pitching circle. New Hampshire won all of their games against Spanish competition.
Next up for Osborne will be Plymouth State, where she hopes to play softball in the spring. Lachapelle will be a junior this year for coach Joan Forge's team, and she returns to the pitching circle after leading the Eagles to a postseason berth and a winning record during her first season as the varsity starting pitcher.