- July 11, 2016
A remarkable run came to an end for the Windermere Little League Softball All-Stars in Georgia at the 2015 Little League Softball Southeast Regional Tournament.
The team of local girls, which had an 8-0 record through district, sectional and state competition, won one of its three contests in Warner Robins in pool play to finish the postseason with a 9-2 record.
Afterward, head coach Neal Harris Jr. reflected on the elite level of competition that his team faced over the weekend.
“It was serious; those teams were just unbelievable,” Harris said. “The big difference was the pitching. … We’ve never seen anything like that. We were kind of the underdogs up there. Size-wise, we were the smallest team up there.”
Windermere fell in the first game it played against host Warner Robins in front of an estimated crowd of 3,000 fans. The girls then defeated West Virginia, 3-0, and lost to Virginia, 5-0.
And, even though Windermere was defeated convincingly in its first game, Harris said the experience of playing in front of such an energized crowd on manicured fields with stadium-style seating was one his team will never forget.
“The experience was unbelievable; it’s hard to put into words,” he said. “It’s like they’re playing in a professional stadium up there. Their faces just lit up (when they took the field) — I wish I would have (recorded) it. … Just the whole fanfare about it — they had an absolute blast.”
Beyond the field, the girls enjoyed the opportunity to mingle and make friends with their out-of-state opponents. Most notably, during the game Windermere won, a lengthy rain delay gave the two teams a chance to grab dinner together.
“It was the coolest thing,” Harris said, adding that the newfound friends were singing and dancing with one another between games and exchanging follows on social-media accounts such as Instagram.
“It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the coaches and the girls,” Harris said.
After opening the 2015 Florida Little League State Championship Tournament with a 5-4 win over Coral Springs, the Dr. Phillips Little League 12-Year-Old All-Stars lost the next two contests and ended their postseason run in pool play in Tallahassee.
DP fell to Lakewood Ranch, 10-9, and Sarasota, 4-2, in two closely contested ball games.
The team went 10-2 in district, sectional and state competition this summer.