A strong push by the 10-12 All-Star team ended with a tough 2-1 loss.
All good things must come to an end, and for Windermere’s hometown team that was unfortunately the case on Sunday, July 28.
After going 2-1 at the Little League Southeast Regional in Warner Robins, Georgia, the Windermere Little League 10-12 All-Star softball team saw its season end with a 2-1 loss at the hands of a feisty West Virginia team.
The game came down to tough pitching from both teams, which WLL just couldn’t overcome.
“Their pitcher was really solid — her ball was moving quite a bit and we couldn’t time it up until the very end of the game when we came back through the order and we were able to finally start hitting,” said Rex Smith, the team’s head coach. “It was too little, too late, but that’s what every game when we were there came down to — one or two hits.”
The lone run would come off of the bat of Lexi King, who singled in a run off of a line drive in the top of the sixth to cut West Virginia’s lead to one run. Unfortunately, however, that would be all the scoring WLL could muster.
In the circle, King once again threw a dandy of a game, giving up only two runs on four hits through five innings, while striking out five — a common theme throughout the team’s run.
Despite the heartbreak of having your season come to an end in such a tough way, there was something to be said about the mental fortitude shown by every player, Smith said.
“The great thing from that — the big takeaway that I have — is that those girls were fighting until the very, very last out was called,” Smith said.
The girls of the 10-12 All-Star team fought tooth and nail the whole tournament, which was something that hadn’t happened in both sectionals and states.
Here in Florida, the team dominated left and right, but things changed when WLL took the field for its first game on Thursday, July 25, against Georgia.
Under those bright lights, you could definitely sense some apprehension in the dugout, Smith said.
“There were definitely nerves all around from all the different girls on our team, especially our first game on Thursday night,” Smith said. “The atmosphere and the number of people watching, and the number of people there … it’s just very intimidating to walk down there and be on the field in front of so many people.”
That game would end up being a total pitcher’s duel that saw Lexi go six full innings, striking out 10 batters and giving up two hits and no runs. Meanwhile, the lone run for WLL came off of the bat of Cami Pini, who singled to right, scoring Sophie Shaik for the 1-0 victory.
The following day, on Friday, July 26, WLL would find itself in a similar situation, though unfortunately it was North Carolina who prevailed in a 1-0 win.
“Everybody was really upbeat, because we felt like we didn’t play our best that game,” Smith said. “We all were very confident we could beat that North Carolina team, and so we just immediately talked about the path to get back to the championship game.”
“The great thing from that — the big takeaway that I have — is that those girls were fighting until the very, very last out was called.”
— Rex Smith
That path led WLL straight into an elimination game against South Carolina on Saturday, July 27, and this time there would be offense in what would become a stressful game.
After taking a 5-0 lead in the first two innings — thanks to strong hitting from players like Aly Henry and Hailey Seymour — things seemed to be going well, before South Carolina rallied for five runs over the span of the fourth and fifth innings.
But with the game tied up, in the bottom of the seventh inning, Lauren Rifenburg answered the call when she grounded into a fielder’s choice to bring home Aly from third to seal up the 6-5 win.
The win pushed WLL on to the matchup against West Virginia, but that’s when time would expire in yet another pitcher’s duel. It was tough for the girls, not only because it means no more softball, but because it also means that they won’t be able to spend as much time with one another.
“Obviously they want to play competitive softball, but being able to spend as much time together and the relationship that they all made this summer,” Smith said. “These girls are going to have some great memories that they’re going to be talking about for a long time.”