Let the madness begin

Published 7:52 pm Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Washington 12U All-Star Rebekah Williams (left) slides into home plate during the Babe Ruth Southeast Regional where the team placed second. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

Bracket busters? That’s what the Washington 12U All-Stars are hoping to become as they prepare to compete against teams from all across the country in the upcoming Babe Ruth World Series in Florida beginning on Aug. 3.
Like a bubble team in March Madness, the All-Stars had to wait until the final day of the Southeast Regional to learn that they had received and invite to the Big Dance and now that they are in it they are hoping to shuffle their way to the first World Series title in Washington history.
“The Washington 12U All-Stars are one of the strongest teams we have ever put on the field,” Washington Girls Fastpitch Softball League president Greg Dority said. “The national championship is comparable to the NCAA basketball tournament where any team can win. Coach (Seth) Edwards has done a great job of bringing these girls together … If we can (win) it we can put Washington on the national softball map.”
The 12Us have taken second in the state and the Southeast Regional tournaments this summer and will become the first Washington team ever to play in an out-of-state World Series. However, the ticket to the Big Dance comes with a big price tag and the All-Stars are seeking donations to help with the burden of the expense.
“This is the biggest thing that has ever happen to Washington softball, taking the team to the 12U national tournament out of state,” Dority said. “The response from the community has been overwhelming. The Chamber of Commerce has helped out with emails, business are talking and the girls are going around town soliciting donations to help send these girls on a once and a lifetime trip.”
Anyone wishing to donate can submit contributions to Washington Girls Softball League, First Bank, Attn: Larry Lang, 1296 John Small Ave., Washington, N.C. 27889.
Dority said that aside from the benefit of playing against top-notch nation-wide competition, the experience also teaches life lessons.
“Softball is more than just executing plays on the field,” Dority said. “It’s about character development and leadership growth for these girls. It will translate to our future here in eastern North Carolina. This opportunity will help these girls grow beyond the softball field.”
When the 12Us leave for Florida, they will be only the third team from Washington to play in the Babe Ruth World Series.
“In the early 2000s we had a 16U state title winner that went to the World Series in Pitt County. In 2009 we had a 12U team win the Southeast Regional to go to the World Series in Wilson,” Dority said. “This is the first time we’ve had a team go to the World Series out of state.”
The All-Stars will no doubt play some stellar competition but the 12Us combination of pitching, defense and style of play allows them to hang with any team they take the field against.
“With (pitchers) Rachel Lang and Rebekah Williams we bring a fire and ice combination like we had a few years ago. Lang has a fastball that is virtually unhittable and Williams can throw three or four pitches to any spot the coach calls for which means we usually have a pitching advantage,” Dority said. “We can bring as many as six or seven left-handed hitters to the plate and play the short game and put the ball just about anywhere on the field. The 1-2 punch we have in Sydney Edwards and Sara Lynch at the top of the lineup before we get to our right-handed sticks gives us an offensive attack that is hard to defend.
“The key is probably going to be our defense. Kaitlyn Spain has done an amazing job in center field and Meghan Moore has become the wide-ranging shortstop we have been looking for since the days of Beth Batchelor. With Hailey Harris at catcher, we are very strong up the middle.”