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McDonough sets sights on daughter’s softball squad

(April 2, 2015) Coach Cameron McDonough was on top of the world Last August as he watched his son and a small army of Berlin Little Leaguers play in the U.S. Championship game in Livermore, Calif.
The team came close to bringing home a title, falling 6-5 to a Nogales, Ariz. team that would go on to beat Puerto Rico in the World Championship game the following day.
This spring, McDonough will take on a different, but no less important, coaching role with Little League Softball and his 7-year-old daughter, Carly.
Rain has largely kept the team of 7 and 8-year-old girls off the field, although the squad did manage to get in one practice.
“We did have a really good practice last Friday [and] went over a bunch of little fielding stuff,” McDonough said. “It’s back to the basics. When you’re teaching 7- and 8-year-olds, a lot of times they don’t have the basic motions down, so we were working on getting into the proper throwing position, getting into the proper fielding position and working on simple things.”
Instruction also comes with a healthy dose of fun, McDonough said.
“That’s kind of my style, to make sure we’re keeping it real light and we’re having a good time at practice,” he said. “The other day when the girls were running bases I was talking to them and I said, ‘You know I’m faster than all you guys.’ Those girls look at me, and I’m as round as I am tall, and they said, ‘No, no I’m faster than you.’ After practice I had to line them up and start racing them to the outfield fence and back. I tell you one thing – 7-year-olds are a lot faster than they used to be. They make it tough on me.”
McDonough marveled at the turnout early in the season, as the league has grown from two teams last year to four in 2015.
“We’ve got over 40 girls in our Coach Pitch division this year,” he said. “It’s real exciting what’s happening with the softball program in Berlin. We’re definitely growing exponentially.”
The coach credited Katie Griffin as a major force in helping expand the league.  
“She heads up the whole softball program,” McDonough said. “She’s wonderful. She’s been the bulldog leading the charge on this whole softball program in Berlin. She’s really helped in getting it going. We had been in baseball for eons, but this is just our third year of softball.”
McDonough said it didn’t hurt that his Intermediate All Stars, as well as the Berlin 9-10 All Stars, had deep runs into the postseason last year, or that a 13-year-old girl, Philadelphia pitcher Mo’ne Davis, wound up on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 2014.
“It definitely gets people talking and gets the kids excited,” McDonough said. “I know Carly was excited about Mo’ne for sure. That little girl is awesome.”
McDonough’s son Tristan excelled on last year’s World Series team, batting .444 in five games and leading the squad in both homeruns and RBIs. On the mound, Tristan pitched to a 3.75 ERA, striking out 18 batters in 9 1/3 innings.
Like his dad, Tristan also finds himself in a different role this year – a freshman in high school at Stephen Decatur.
“He played soccer in the fall and he’s having a good freshman year,” McDonough said. “He’s doing baseball this spring and he actually made varsity as a freshman. We’re super proud.”
McDonough said high school baseball is a new experience.
“It’s a different level,” he said. “[Tristan] has definitely been playing a different kind of role on this team. In the past few years, he’s always been one of the top guys, if not the top guy, and this is a different animal. He’s got seniors and juniors around him and we’ve got two kids on Stephen Decatur’s high school team that have already committed to Division I colleges.”
Grant Donahue, a pitcher whose fastball reaches the low 90s, announced his intention to play for the University of Virginia following the season. Starting shortstop Justin Meekins will head to Maryland.
Both college teams are currently ranked in the top 20 in the country.
“It’s good because Tristan is getting to see a whole new level that he’s having to work up to,” McDonough said. “What’s really cool is Tristan has grown up idolizing these guys – these were the guys that were two and three years ahead of him in baseball, and now he’s getting a chance to play with them and go at it with them. He’s doing well, but it’s definitely a whole new role.”
Looking back on last year’s historic World Series run, McDonough said it’s the time he spent off the field with his players that he’ll remember the most.
“What stands out to me is the crazy time we had in San Francisco,” McDonough said. “More than how well our guys played that week, we just had so much fun out there, whether it was going through San Francisco and checking out Pier 39, or going to the Oakland A’s game.”
Strangely enough, McDonough’s favorite memory came just after the team’s narrow loss when, rather than hang their heads, the Berlin Little League All Stars struck up an impromptu game of whiffle ball with players from other teams, many who spoke little or no English.
“That’s what will stick with me,” McDonough said. “We lose a crushing United States title game, and it’s not even an hour later and there’s probably eight of our guys out there with the kids from Arizona, with the kids from Curacao, with the kids from Korea, and everybody is just out there having a great time.
“I remember hanging out in the courtyard of the hotel and watching the guys play,” McDonough continued. “It’s wild how baseball just becomes that great communicator – it just broke down those barriers very quickly. It’s just an experience that not many people get to have, and it’s truly once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing.”
Girls 13-16 Softball is still accepting registration through Monday, April 6. To register, visit, or call or email Katie Griffin at 443-513-0139 or