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Tepedino family in middle of their own high school sports odyssey

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By DAVE O’SULLIVAN Publisher Pete Tepedino and Kelli Szrom are definitely ready to take their cars in for an oil change, maybe even a tire rotation. They are brother and sister, and also parents of two of the top athletes in the Cape-Atlantic League and have spent a whirlwind spring following the progress of their children. Pete has been a mainstay at Mainland Regional baseball games watching son Matt, who was the ace of the pitching staff and helped lead the Mustangs to the Group 3 championship this year. Meanwhile, Kelli’s daughter, Tori, is a freshman shortstop and pitcher at Egg Harbor Township and helped lead the Eagles to a 14-win season that included a berth in the South Jersey Group 4 playoffs. The Tepedino family is smack dab in the middle of sort of a high school sports odyssey. For the last four years they have been following Matt’s career as a baseball player, and now, for the next three years they get to watch the exploits of his younger cousin at EHT. “They are very close. Pete and I were very close as kids and we spent a lot of time together,” Kelli said. “Matt has spent a lot of time with my kids over the years. He’s been playing baseball since he was a little kid and he also plays golf. He’s just a natural athlete.” Matt, an 18-year-old who will be continuing his baseball career at New Orleans University this fall, said that growing up, Tori, who turns 15 this month, was always hanging around, wanting to learn everything she could about baseball. He said she even dreamed of one day donning a Philadelphia Phillies uniform. “The funny thing about her is, her dream when she was younger was to become the first female pitcher on the Phillies. If you’ve ever seen her throw, she’s a good pitcher, especially for a freshman. I think she has a lot of potential and will go on to play college softball. She definitely has the ability to play Division I,” Matt said. “I used to give my younger cousin pitching lessons and she would always be hanging around. I think that got her excited to have a career in softball, because she looked up to me.” Tori Szrom, Matt's cousin, just finished her freshman year at Egg Harbor Township High School and is a rising pitching and infield star with the Eagles' softball team. Tori Szrom, Matt’s cousin, just finished her freshman year at Egg Harbor Township High School and is a rising pitching and infield star with the Eagles’ softball team. Kelli also said that she has been impressed with the level of maturity her nephew has shown as being one of the team leaders for the Mustangs, and sort of a voice among the players to the media. “I think that has to do with his experience in all of the showcase tournaments he did. He’s been approached by scouts for years and he learned the right way to handle himself. And he believes in himself. He knows he has skills that a lot of people don’t have. And he’s talked to her about how she’s going to have to talk to (college) coaches on her own and speak for herself. She’s getting there. She just finished her freshman year,” Kelli said. “Matt has been in situations where it’s very stressful and he holds his demeanor. He doesn’t shut down. And that’s something she sees, that good or bad you have to be able to talk to people who want to interview you. That has a lot to do with my brother, who has been very forthcoming with Matt speaking for himself. Even when he was young, Pete made sure that Matt was prepared to speak and have his own opinion, and we try to do that with our daughter, too.” Seeing the success Mainland had this season has gotten Kelli and Tori to thinking what might be possible for the EHT softball program, which is traditionally strong, has a solid coaching staff and a lot of talented players returning for the 2015 season. “We think EHT is just going to get better because the skill level among the younger kids is growing exponentially. There are some kids coming up next year that will make the team even stronger. She is exactly thinking that,” Kelli said. “She’s watching and saying, look, Mainland never did it before and we can do the same thing.” “We have a lot of young players coming up and each year EHT keeps improving, so I think next year we’ll be pretty good again. My goal is to win and I’m just going to keep working toward that,” Tori said. Having the Tepedino bloodline, is there any reason to doubt her? Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays [adsense]

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