Fast-pitch softball league aims to fuse old rivals

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After six years apart, the Cranston Ravens and CLCF Bombers are banding together to form a new recreational and travel softball program that will be run through CLCF (Cranston’s League for Cranston’s Future).

Alison Izzi, who branched out from CLCF to form the Ravens six years ago along with PJ Bessette, who is the current vice president of the Ravens, and Tiffany Spiridakos (along with co-president Dave Eastman), who now runs CLCF softball, have decided that a merger is the best option at this point because of dwindling numbers.

“We got to the point where we felt a merger would be appropriate and the best thing for the city and the girls,” Izzi said. “Pooling resources, pooling numbers, we can just be stronger all around.”

Now, Izzi has taken her 100 players back to CLCF, after leaving six years ago to form a fast-pitch softball league, to join Spiridakos’ 225 players to form the “new and improved” CLCF team, for which a name has not yet been decided on.

Izzi said that since Spiridakos took over CLCF softball she’s been building up the program, and Izzi wanted back in with the now-fast-pitch league.

“People really identified with whether you’re a bomber or a raven,” she said about the rivalry that was present between their two leagues. “We wanted a fusion, a blending of everybody. We’re trying to heal the separation that was created.”

Added Spiridakos, “We’re never going to be as strong segregated as we are together.”

Now that the two leagues have merged and the women behind it all are excited to get going, the real work begins.

The fields they’ll be using are the Aqueduct fields, which the Ravens used before, and the Brayton Complex, which CLCF has been using.

Sign-ups for the recreational league, which will be called the CLCF Gals, is open now on the website www.clcfsports.org/index.php/sports/softball. The league will start in April and run through June, with 12 regular season games (double-headers every Saturday) and then playoffs.

The recreation league ranges from age six to 18 and registration cost is $50 for the younger age groups and $75 for the older ages. No girls will be turned away, something the two leaders of the league take pride in.

This registration cost is much cheaper than the cost of the travel leagues that branch off from CLCF, which Izzi said can cost up to $900 or more because of tournament costs involved, including uniforms, umpire fees, and insurance. She said that they’ll try to get as many travel teams as they can together for the May-August season, and Spiridakos added that she thinks the teams will be more competitive than ever before because of the merger.

Izzi also said that future plans include getting the players set up at an indoor training facility during the winter (which they do already with some players) because although it is expensive it is the only way to keep practicing and training during the winter months.

Financing for the league will also be more consolidated with the merger, as now CLCF can handle it at an organizational level, especially having CLCF treasurer Mike Prew available to maintain the money. Both Izzi and Spiridakos expressed their gratitude for the CLCF board, including Steve Marocco, for their support in the merger.

Spiridakos said that the league’s finances will remain stable under the merger and money will continue to be raised solely through registration fees, sponsorships, fundraising, and concessions.

“When we were at CLCF [six years ago], we’d have eight teams in a division,” Izzi said about forming a new community through the merging of leagues. “You’d come on a Saturday and play double headers and it was this big family and community in Cranston.”

Spiridakos added that they want the league to be more like it was in the “older days,” when there were more than 5,500 players.

“We want to put out the strongest possible teams from Cranston,” she said. “We should be able to compete with the likes of Apponaug and Coventry.”

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