Slades finding East Beaufort’s run to be special

Published 2:32 pm Tuesday, July 18, 2017

BATH — To coach Eric Slade, the East Beaufort 16U all-star team is a sort of family business. Slade and his team recently won the North Carolina and southeast regional championships, earning them a trip to the World Series in Jensen Beach, Florida.

Slade has two daughters on the team: shortstop Savannah Slade, and second baseman Kathleen Slade. His wife, Joanna Slade, puts in plenty of work behind the scenes.

The trips that the team has taken aren’t unlike some of the Slade family trips. The recent drive to Virginia and the upcoming trek to Florida are their vacations this summer. Although the road trips are similar, they tend to be a bit nosier when you add more girls to the mix.

“It’s a lot louder,” Slade laughed. “When you’ve got five or six girls in a vehicle with you, you get to hear all different kinds of music that you’re not used to.”

Savannah and Kathleen said they didn’t get along that well when they were younger, as is typical of siblings as they grow up together. Since they’ve started playing together, though, their relationship off the field has improved.

“We make good plays and we chest bump each other,” Savannah said. “We don’t fight as much.”

The on-field chemistry is still coming along. Savannah and Kathleen both said they oftentimes get mistaken as twins. They don’t always have the sisterly intuition of where they other is when they’re playing side-by-side in the infield. From time to time, they have been known to run into each other while pursuing a ground ball.

“Dad says we have a communication problem because we’re both overly aggressive,” Savannah said. “I called it first.”

“I couldn’t hear her,” Kathleen snapped back.

It’s to be expected. This season is only the second year Savannah and Kathleen have played together, and the first time they’ve played next to each other on defense.

“I think it’s going pretty good. We get along well now,” Kathleen said.

Savannah added, “I think it’s going to help us in high-school ball, also. I’m a senior and she’ll be a freshman.”

Eric Slade may have his two daughters on the team, but he’s taken a family approach to the entire group. He’s spent plenty of time with all of the girls over the last few years, so it’s grown into something special.

“There’s a lot of pride in it. It’s a lot of pride. You have a lot of pride when you have children involved,” Slade said. “I’ve been coaching this whole group of girls since they were 10 years old. They all feel like my children now.

“It’s a big family. That’s what makes it so special. They all seem to have respect for me and the other players. It’s a lot of fun. There’s no drama. It’s really good ball.”

East Beaufort is already on its way to Florida. The tournament officially begins today. Regardless of how the next week or so pans out, these all stars have already accomplished a lot and done well to represent Beaufort County.