When the summer began there were a lot of new faces for the Conklin Raiders Gold.

With a number of players leaving due to the age limit, the squad got an influx of new talent this summer.

It made things different at the start of the year as the players all got to know each other, but as time went on, the squad began to bond.

"Travel ball is always fun," Ridgebury's Olivia May, of Notre Dame, said. "We grew a lot together over the summer. At the beginning of the summer we hardly even knew each other."

For the players, the relationships formed in the travel ball are ones that last forever.

"The bonds you get through softball, I can't even describe," Skyler Hoyt, of Union-Endicott, said.

While there were a lot of new faces at the beginning of the summer, the players quickly were able to make the adjustments.

"It was not that hard," Chenango Forks' Michaela Transue said. "We just had to get used to the people around us and come together as a team."

While the Raiders include players from all over, some of them traveling more than an hour to Conklin, N.Y., they also do always practice together.

"One of the good things with this team is we all practice together," May said. "Unlike some teams that fly people in from all over for tournaments, we always practice together."

For some of the players that can be a long trip, but everyone helps to make it easier.

"It's really not that hard," Oneida's Jenna Didio said. "We can always get a ride from someone. Everyone on this team is willing to help out."

Even with the help it does make for a big commitment with the players investing a lot of time for practices and tournaments.

However, the players all feel like the commitment is worth it.

"It is so worth it if you love the sport," Hoyt said.

Most of the players on the team played for a number of other travel teams before they got to the Raiders and it's a mix of players who have been on the team for a while, and ones who haven't.

"It's about half and half," Windsor's Morgan Starley said. "Michaela (Transue) has been on the team for four years, but I have only been on the team for two years."

For May, Transue, Starley, Julia Gardner of Solvay and Chenango Valley's Morgan Hope this is their last summer with the team.

"It's kind of weird to think we will be with new people next year," Hope said. "We have played together two or three years and we have a whole new group of people to get used to."

All five of the graduating seniors will play in college next year and for the younger players, this summer is a good chance to get themselves noticed by colleges.

The Raiders have one tournament left this summer and the seniors-to-be know how big that is for them.

"It's our time to get recruited this weekend," Didio said.

The Raiders won their last tournament and are feeling good about their performance as the summer nears a close.

"That was really nice to win, it was a great tournament," Hoyt said.

And now it is one last tournament before the summer comes to a close.

"It will be fun to be with everyone for another tournament," Hoyt said.