East Beaufort 16U to play for World Series title

Published 6:52 pm Tuesday, July 25, 2017

JENSEN BEACH, Fla. — It’s been some time since East Beaufort’s 16U all stars have lost a game. That last loss wasn’t in the Babe Ruth World Series, where they finished pool play 4-0. They then disposed of the VPL All Stars, 10-4, before hanging on for an 8-7 win against JPRD West on Monday.

The most recent victory — East Beaufort’s sixth in as many World Series games, which extended its win streak that started back when it was playing locally in eastern North Carolina — secured a World Series championship meeting with the TCAA Wildcats on Wednesday at 5 p.m.

Coach Eric Slade credits the support from Beaufort County as one of the team’s driving forces. For the most part, the all stars have been playing the same way that got them so far. It’s a combination of fundamentally sound defense coupled with power at the plate.

“The girls are sticking together,” he said. “The support back home has been tremendous. I can’t say how many calls and texts, everybody is on Facebook and all that stuff. They’re saying we have so many more views from our area on the live stream.

“It’s been very humbling to see how much support we get from back home. I think the girls have to have pride in that. Them playing good defense and hitting the ball well, but (Tuesday), we got a little shaky on defense, but they pulled together and came through.”

Kathleen Slade makes a throw from second base during the game against Western Carteret. Slade has been a part of a stout infield behind pitcher Rebekah Williams.

The Wildcats present a lofty challenge for East Beaufort. They shut out their first two bracket-play opponents. In pool play, the Wildcats are also a perfect 4-0 and boast a run differential two better than East Beaufort’s.

“They’re an extremely good team,” Slade said. “I think it’s going to be an outstanding game. We’ve been watching them and taking notes. They’re deep in pitching. They probably don’t have quite as much power as we do. They’ve got a lot of speed and they’re very sound defensively.”

On the other hand, East Beaufort hasn’t had a problem seeing the ball. It seems their fondness of the long ball has only grown as five different players have hit home runs so far.

East Beaufort may find it advantageous to have played a one-run game in the semifinal while the Wildcats have had smooth sailing thus far.

“It was great. Very emotional,” Slade said. “They were all tickled to death about it. They ground down and got it done at the very end to get those last few outs. It was huge. We still had the last at bat there, but it was nice to not have to use it.”

Even considering how well East Beaufort played heading into the World Series, it appears the girls are peaking at just the right time. Their defense showed holes in the semifinal win, but they showed the ability to bounce back. On top of that, their offense has been among the most potent.

“In all honesty, we’ve seen some outstanding teams here. The good Lord has stood with us and helped us pull through,” Slade said. “Some of the scores, the teams are a lot better than that. They’ve hit the ball well. We’ve made some good plays. Those scores should have been a lot closer than they are.”

To stream the game, visit www.sbworldseries.com. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Wednesday.