The Oak Park Youth Baseball Softball 12U Falcons softball team celebrates a recent tournament win. The Falcons are 14-3 and will host the 11th annual Falcon Fest July 7-9 in Oak Park. | Patrick Durgin

The Oak Park Youth Baseball Softball 12U Falcons fastpitch softball team has had a terrific season. On the field, they’re 14-3 and have won two tournaments. Off the field, they’ve served as mentors and teachers for the program’s 8U team.

The 12U team is coached by Bianca Severino, Jonathan Strauss, and Tim Walsh.

“The girls on this team share a special bond with one another,” said Strauss. “Not only do they enjoy playing softball, but they love playing with each other. They are truly a team in every sense of the word.” 

After their first tournament of the season was canceled, the Falcons finally hit the field in early May for the Minneapolis-St. Paul Flower Power tournament. They dominated in pool play, winning every game, but lost their first bracket play game 11-4 to the MP Express. 

With one more opportunity to stay in the tournament, the Falcons’ hitting flourished, and they battled all the way to the championship round, earning a rematch with the Express. The Falcons had to beat them twice to win the title, and they did just that.

Two weeks later, the Falcons took part in the USSSA Algonquin Aces Memorial tournament. After an Oak Park victory in the first game, the Warren Wave then defeated the Falcons, 8-6. The Falcons, however, won their final pool game and advanced in the bracket. 

After beating the Wheatland Spikes, they took on the host Aces, and the Falcons came through again, prevailing 11-9 to advance to the title game.

In a rematch with the Wave for the title, the Falcons started slowly, but they turned the game around, closing the gap with flawless pitching and great fielding. With that, the Falcons took home their second title of the season.

“Nothing would have been possible without the girls making a commitment to working hard and improving,” he said. “They’ve done this throughout the entire year, including during the winter at indoor facilities.”

But the Falcons are more than about competing for championships. Recently, the team hosted a clinic for the younger players in their league, coaching the Oak Park Youth Baseball and Softball 8U All-Stars on hitting, fielding and sliding.

“Two of our players [Lily and Jeanette Zort] came up with the idea on their own to hold a softball clinic for the 8U all-star team as a community service project,” Strauss said. “It was wonderful to see our team take an active role in helping to develop the next generation of players.”

Strauss added that with a few weeks remaining in the season, the team’s goals haven’t changed.

“We want to keep working hard, continue to improve, and share our excitement for the game with as many of the younger players as possible,” he said. “And if we win a couple of more tournaments, that would be OK too.”

The Falcons will host their 11th annual Falcon Fest tournament July 7-9. For more information, visit

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