In 2004, the families of Opie Pratt and Brett Houston were sitting around the Houston’s backyard fireplace one summer evening and the idea of putting together an ASA softball team sparked to life.
That evening, many laughs were had and several names for the program were thrown around from the NH Granite to the Lilacs, Butterflies, Fireflies, Black Flies, Tornados, Hurricanes, and just about every other animal or windstorm. Finally, someone (there is still great controversy over who said it first) blurted out the New Hampshire Lightning name and it sounded real good and it stuck!
Dan Pratt (Opie’s son) drew up the design of the first New Hampshire Lightning logo and it looked great and appears on most New Hampshire Lightning hats, visors and uniforms to this day with some minor tweaking. A board was formed, official elected, and in the end, the program came to life with on U16 team.
The first softball team was comprised of girls from around the greater Concord, New Hampshire area and included: Jennifer Allen, Jess Bombaci, Byana Bradley, Heather Farley, Jess Farley, Nicole Gladieux, Hilary Kane, Courtney Heath, Brittany Houston, Rachel Landry, Ally Pratt, Katie Moffet, Britney Pelkey, Jill Schaffer, Stacy Seidner, Kristina Rieger and Sid Rice.
The original coaches were Opie Pratt, Brett Houston, Sarah Bombaci and Caroline Farley (official scorekeeper). This team traveled around NH, New England and Montreal, Canada. The girls played great ball for never having played together before and won their share of games. Then summer turned to fall, and that was not enough, soccer season or not, they wanted to play softball and in the fall of 2004 rostered a “Fall Ball” team playing well in October. Great fun was had by all- in fact it was such a success that plans were set to grow the program in the following year.
This Crazed Group recruited even more players and played the 2005 season with not just a U16 team but a U12, U14, U16 & U18 teams. Again, they played into October with “Fall Ball”. In November, after a few weeks of down time (or was it days), they formed a winter group that worked out 3-4 times a week and competed in a Christmas Tournament in Portland, ME as well as the Winter Blast Tournament in Montreal, Canada.
In 2006, New Hampshire Lightning added two more teams to their ever growing list, supporting a U12, U14, U16, U16 selects (for players wanting to tryout and compete in college showcase tournaments) as well as two U18 teams. New Hampshire Lightning not only registered as an ASA team but added NSA and Pony to its schedule, allowing our teams to travel all over NE and possibly further. In 2006, the U14 team won the ASA State Championship and went on to sweep the ASA Regional’s in Maine and represented the New Hampshire Lightning at the ASA Nationals in Virginia!
In 2007, a U10 division was added to the league and was filled with promising young players who represented the future of the program. The program has grown from 16 players a few years ago to an organization that now has 5 teams and 60 outstanding softball players. And…the plans remain for further growth in the years to come.
2008 brought an additional U14 team to the mix. After several tournament championships in ’07 and a U10 regional invitation, the New Hampshire Lightning U14 Blue team finished as the runner up team at the Lowell, MA ASA National Qualifier the weekend of June 6th and the U16 team claimed the Rochester Slammers Championship over the June 13th weekend! The remainder of the 2008 season proved to be a very exciting year. 6 teams and close to 75 New Hampshire Lightning players competed across New England, New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania!