Stepping Up: East Beaufort 16U does county proud

Published 4:08 pm Thursday, July 27, 2017

East Beaufort’s 16U all stars went down to Florida last week to do exactly what they’ve been doing for years: make Beaufort County proud. They did it right down the road in Chocowinity when they swept the competition in the Babe Ruth state softball tournament. They did it again in Virginia when they defeated all challengers in the southeast regional.

This past week, East Beaufort has taken on some of the best softball players from around America at the Babe Ruth softball World Series. The girls, most of whom will be the present and future of Northside’s softball program, rolled past most of the competition they saw there.

That was until they ran into the hosting Wildcats of Jensen Beach. East Beaufort played in front of a crowd showing overwhelming support for the local team. Plenty of support was shown back home as Down on Mainstreet in Washington aired the game, and East Beaufort fans tuned into the live streams in droves.

East Beaufort came up short in the World Series championship, 9-1. The Wildcats were able to summon plenty of two-out offense to continuously build on their lead in the first half of the game.

A two-RBI double in the first got the home side going. Then the Wildcats got a two-out single in the third, and an RBI double in the fourth to establish a 5-1 lead. Try as East Beaufort did, it was tough to get much from a stingy pitcher and a strong infield defense. It ended up being outhit 16-2.

It proved tough to match the Wildcats’ experience. They had seven players back from last year’s team, which went all the way to the World Series semifinals. East Beaufort knew roughly what it was in for as, heading into the championship, the Wildcats were the only team with a better run differential.

Outcome aside, East Beaufort’s all stars were terrific representatives of a previously unknown nook in North Carolina. Coach Eric Slade said before the trip to Florida that people at the southeast regional constantly mispronounced the name of the county. They all knew how to correctly say “Beaufort” by the time they left Virginia.

These girls spent the majority of their summer on the softball field. For many of them, the trip to Florida for the World Series was their vacation. They likely wanted to cap their run with a championship, but finishing second best to such a team is nothing to be ashamed of.

Congratulations to East Beaufort on all their success. The summer of 2017 should be a treasure trove of memories for years to come. Moreover, their success should lay the groundwork for winning ways in high school and possibly beyond.