Business as usual

Published 5:38 pm Monday, July 18, 2011

The Washington 14U All-Stars pose for a picture after winning the Babe Ruth state softball tournament. On Wednesday, the All-Stars will be Varina, Va., to compete in the Southeast Regional tournament. The team members are: (front row, from left) Emily Moore, Alex Adams, Allison Brantley, Kendall Alligood, Anna Hardison, Haley Hutchins, (back row, from left) Sarah Woolard, Catie Dority, Kaylee Jackson, Adriana Tyson, Haley Wright and Kelsey Lang. (Contributed Photo)

When the Washington 14U All-Stars recorded the final out in the championship game of the Babe Ruth state softball tournament to clinch a spot in the Southeast Regional tournament, the team celebrated with curbed enthusiasm. For a group that has already been to two Southeast Regionals, winning the state tournament was just business as usual.
Though the team consists of girls 14-years of age or younger, the All-Stars are a savvy crew that knows how to keep their eye on the prize.
“They were excited and they always give 110 percent, but after going (to the Southeast Regional) three times in five years it has become kind of the standard,” Washington head coach Wendy Godley said.
In 2009, the All-Stars won the Southeast Regional, while they placed third in 2007. On Wednesday, the team will begin the 20011 tournament, which is held in Varina, Va. (the same place it was held in ’09), and will count on its hitting to propel it through the tourney.
“This team is a hitting team. We have a very strong defense, but the thing about this team is that there is power all throughout the lineup,” Godley said.
“We don’t have any gimmes in the lineup; any girl can put the ball out. If they’re hitting, I don’t think there is any team that can touch us as long as our defense plays solid.”
That lineup tore through the Babe Ruth state tournament a week ago as the All-Stars out-scored their opponents 93-3 to add a state championship title to their district crown.
Aside from their stellar batting, a key element to All-Stars winning ways is good team chemistry. The girls work well together and it shows on the field.
“I think it’s very important that they all get along, they have been together since they were two and three years-old starting in day care. They have friendships that will last a lifetime,” Godley said. “I think the chemistry helps the winning … Sometimes you get used to that person playing next to you – and we might mix it up a little bit – but when they are comfortable they’re a tough team.”
The All-Stars will face stiff competition in Varina, but if they can play up to their standards they can play with anyone.
“They key to winning is to play our defense the way we can play defense and have everybody hit the ball,” Godley said. “We coaches (Godley, along with assistant coaches Linda Alligood and Brad Brantley) have to recognize the weaknesses of the other team and play on those weakness.
“If a team has trouble playing small ball — defending the ball and slaps — then that’s what we have to do, and we can do that. We can play big ball and we can play small ball and I think that’s the key to winning.”