Washington ready to make history at World Series|

Published 10:49 am Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Staff Writer

The Washington 12U Babe Ruth all-star team will find itself in unfamiliar territory come Thursday afternoon when its participates in the opening ceremony of the 2009 Babe Ruth Softball 12U World Series.
The ceremony, held at the Onnie Cockrell Athletic Complex on the campus of Rock Ridge Elementary School in Wilson, will mark the beginning to the end of Washington’s long and labored journey to a World Series title. A journey that took the team from the District 6 tournament in mid—June, to the ENC State Tournament in Williamston in late June, to the Southeast Regional in Varina, Va. in early July and, finally, the World Series.
The all-stars will open up World Series pool play on Thursday at 8 p.m. against tournament host Wilson County.
For first-timers, Washington coach Wendy Hutchins said the girls seem more than prepared.
“I think physically they are prepared, and mentally they are more than prepared because I don’t feel like they realize the significance of making it to the World Series,” Hutchins said.
She attributes the lax attitudes of her players to the close proximity of the World Series to Washington.
“We’re playing in Wilson. If we were playing in California, or Washington State, they might be a little bit more in awe. But right now, it’s just another day,” she said.
Playing so close to home should help bolster Washington’s fan base, a decided advantage over teams traveling from out of state.
“We’re hoping to generate a lot of support,” Hutchins said.
Fans will have four days to cheer on their beloved all-stars in pool play, starting with the Thursday night opener against Wilson County.
The following day, Washington is pitted against southeast Denver, Colo. at 6 p.m. on Field 2
Washington returns to play on Aug. 8, as reining World Series champion Hamilton, N.J. hosts the 12U all-stars at 6 p.m. on Field 2. Washington will finish out pool play in the American Division on Aug. 10 with a 11 a.m. matchup against Lodi, Ca.
The top three teams in each division of pool play move on to the double-elimination World Series
tournament, which starts on Aug. 11. The World Series champion will be crowned on Aug. 13.
Greg Dority, president of the Washington Babe Ruth softball league and father of 12U team member Catie, likes Washington’s chances.
“I don’t think there’s any pitching that’s going to shut us down,” he said.
According to Dority, the league, as a whole, has benefitted greatly from Washington’s improbable Southeast Regional championship.
“There’s a lot of excitement in the program. The younger kids in the league, the 8U (participants), the 10U (participants) have stars in their eyes,” he said.
Washington will be looking to have as much success in the World Series as the Southeast’s usual representative, Pitt County, which has won the Series more than once.
“Pitt County has dominted it for so long,” Dority said.
After beating Pitt County twice to win the Southeast Regional, Dority thinks it’s Washington turn to take home a Series title.
Though the team, which includes Kelsey Lang, Ann Hunt Tanner, Harley Hudson, Dority, Kortney Hardy, Molly Hodges, Adriana Tyson, Kaylee Jackson, Haley Hutchins, Allison Brantley, Haley Wright and Anna Hardison, hasn’t been fazed by the enormity of its accomplishment, the league’s president has been.
Putting it in perspective, Greg Dority said, “This is the biggest thing that has ever happened to Washington softball.”
According to him, over 1,500 teams across the country participate in the Babe Ruth 12U age group.
“Now there’s 10 left, and we’re one of them,” he said.