CUMBERLAND - The Cumberland Heat softball organization was founded in 1996 as a non-profit organization to provide young women with the opportunity to succeed on the softball field and also in life.

By Chapin Jewell
Tribune Correspondent
CUMBERLAND - The Cumberland Heat softball organization was founded in 1996 as a non-profit organization to provide young women with the opportunity to succeed on the softball field and also in life.  
The Heat’s goal is “to assist these young girls in developing their personal and softball skills which will enable them to achieve high levels of competition and possible eligibility for college scholarships.
The Cumberland Heat organization is currently composed of five teams: 10U, 12U, 16U, 18U Red and 18U Blue. Despite having the name “Cumberland” in its title, the Cumberland Heat organization truly represents the entirety of the tri-state region, with a strong player presence coming not only just from Maryland, but nearby Pennsylvania and West Virginia as well.
In fact, the Heat’s 18U Blue squad, who recently enjoyed success competing in and winning the Mo’Town Mayhew tournament this past weekend in Morgantown, is composed of eight players from West Virginia - five from Mineral and three from Hardy county, three players from Pennsylvania, and two from Maryland.
The West Virginia players from Mineral County are Emily Horn and Marié Perdew from Frankfort High School, and Carlie Delsignore, Claire Delsignore and Alexa Shoemaker from Keyser High School.
The West Virginia players from Hardy County include Remi Hinkle, Rebekah Markwood and Alyson Simmons, all from Moorefield High School.
The Heat’s 18U Blue players hailing from Pennsylvania include Lauryn Calhoun from Chestnur Ridge High School, Lindsey Mowry from Bedford High School, and Shawna Leonard from Meyersdale High School.
Olivia Hess and Reagan Marrale, both from Fort Hill High School, represent the Heat’s 18U Blue players from Allegany County in Maryland.
Despite a roster composed of players from all over, assistant coach Kayla Hutson points to outstanding team chemistry as a key to the Heat’s success.
“It’s great. We have two kids that also play other places, and it’s just, when they come in, it’s great. Not all of our kids have been to every tournament or every practice, but it’s just when they come in they just gel, automatically. I don’t know if it is their personalities or what it is, but they’re a great group to be around. They welcome each other and they pick each other up when they need to. It’s a really, really fun time to be with them.
At the Mo’Town Mayhem tournament, Cumberland Heat’s 18U Blue squad put on a dominating performance, both at the plate and from within the pitcher’s circle. In total, the Heat went 6-0 in the two-day tournament, outscoring their opponents 43-7 in total in capturing the championship.
On day one, the Heat went 3-0 and outscored their opponents by an astounding total of 26-1, setting them up nicely for day two as the number one seed in bracket play. In game one, the Heat defeated Cali Impulse 6-0 with Shawna Leonard pitching a complete game shutout.  In game two, the Heat defeated PA Rage 5-1 with Rebekah Markwood on the mound. Game three saw the Heat defeat West Virginia Tide 14-0 in a run-rule shortened game with Lauryn Calhoun starting in the circle, and Marié Perdew closing out the game.
As the number one seed in bracket play on day two, the Heat defeated the Lady Aces 4-0 with Shawna Leonard in the circle.  The Heat then went on to win a close semi-final contest by a score of 7-5 against the PA Renegades, with Rebekah Markwood getting the start at pitcher and Marié Perdew closing things out. The championship game had more breathing room for the Heat, as they went on to win by a score of 6-1 against Power Fastpitch with Shawna Markwood getting the win in the circle.
This was the Heat 18U Blu squads first tournament win of the summer, and third tournament appearance overall. In their first tournament, Tug of War in York, Pennsylvania, the Heat finished in ninth or 10th place. In their second tournament, the Father’s Day Spectacular in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, also their toughest in terms of competition, the Heat finished in fifth place. The first place finish in the Mo’Town Mayhew tournament represents their best performance.
To what does Hutson attribute the strong weekend performance to?
“The key was definitely both our pitching and hitting. All of our pitchers threw very well. They were very consistent.  And honestly, we just hit the ball better than we have all summer. The second game on Sunday, match to match pitching was even, but we just hit the ball more. So it was definitely both pitching and hitting,” Hutson explained.
According to Hutson, it’s difficult to point to a specific offensive standout, “I would if I could, but on Saturday it was the top of our lineup that provided a lot of our major hits. On Sunday, at the beginning of the day, it was the hitters towards the middle, and then at the end of the day it was just everybody.  Everybody stepped up when they needed to.”
The Heat aren’t yet finished for the season, with three tournaments remaining.
According to Hutson, “This weekend we play in the July Sizzler in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Next weekend, we play in Glenville, West Virginia, in the USA Fall Ball Classic. Our last tournament is the first weekend in September, we play in the Petersburg Invitational in Petersburg, West Virginia.”
Hutson is most qualified to assess the value and successes of the Heat organization. From 2009 to 2013, Hutson played for the Heat organization with Heat head coach Rick Twigg serving as her coach. She is now in her fifth summer as a coach for the organization. As such, Hutson gives the Heat high marks in their mission to mold better softball players, but more particularly people.
“Honestly, for me personally, I don’t think there’s a better organization out there. It’s really family oriented.  I know Rick (Twigg) was my coach when I played for the Heat and now I coach with him. The other coaches that have coached me with Rick and throughout my time, they’re just always there after you’re done playing.  It’s not just about softball, it’s about you as a person.”