By Carl Holcomb
Carolina barbecue with sweet sauce along with some country music greeted the Southeastern Regional Junior and Senior League Softball teams in Salisbury, N.C. during the opening ceremony last Thursday, then West Virginia was left with a bitter taste losing to Florida 17-5 in the opening round of the Southeastern Regional Junior League Softball Tournament on Friday morning.
Teams from North Carolina, Florida, West Virginia, Tennessee, and Virginia competed in the junior league, while the senior league featured teams from North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, West Virginia, and Tennessee.
Virginia Senior League edged out North Carolina (Rowan) in the championship.
Rowan Little League hosted the Southeastern Regional for a second year and had nice evening planned with decorations of softballs, gloves, and candy on the tables for the players at the West End Plaza in Salisbury.
There was music and dancing, buffet style food and each player was recognized when receiving the Southeastern Regional pins.
[private] It was nice to be indoors for the festivities as the temperatures were nearly as high as last summer.
Rowan Little League President Dan Wales told the teams that he had good news for them, “it will be two degrees cooler this year.”
During the ceremony, Mr. Wales and Rowan Little League was honored with a community service award by the Little League.
“I’m very proud. We’ve been around since 1955 and it took until a year ago for us to be asked to host this and the Little League staff getting to know us helped,” Rowan Little League president Dan Wales stated.
“I’m extremely proud to host these and hope to keep doing it. You couldn’t ask for anything better. The teams and coaches are first class. I am in my 28th year as the Rowan Little League president. We are a proud community that supports its athletics. I about had tears in my eyes. We work very hard to do the right things here. That on top of everything else is why the Southeast is giving us the opportunity to do this.”
West Virginia struggled in the opening day game on Friday against Florida, falling 17-5.
Florida’s Jordan Stephens hit a leadoff single into left field off Moorefield pitcher Hanna Carlson, then Maddie Boos hit a line drive to shortstop Anna Riggleman.
Julia Diecidue reached on an error, then Brianna Duggins hit an RBI single and Julia Garcia notched an RBI double with help from an error in left field.
Florida extended the lead to 3-0 on a sacrifice bunt.
West Virginia gained one run back in the bottom of the first inning as Riggleman doubled down the left field line and Hinkle hit an RBI single into center field.
Stephens delivered a three run home run for a 6-1 advantage in the second inning.
Florida kept the momentum going as Garcia smacked an RBI double, followed by three RBI singles from Stephanie Brennan, Shelby Schoonmaker and Adie Brake to go up 10-1.
Garcia made a two-run producing single in the third inning against West Virginia pitcher Emily Kuykendall for a 12-1 advantage.
Riggleman singled off Florida pitcher Julia Garcia in the bottom of the inning, then Gracie O’Neill was hit by a pitch.
Tori Humphries hit an RBI groundout, then walks to Remi Hinkle and Keely Weikle sandwiched an RBI single by Carlson with an error creating a 12-3 score.
A passed ball scored a run and the throw went awry with West Virginia attempting a second run on the same play and the tag at home was made.
West Virginia added one more run in the fourth inning on an RBI double by Riggleman plating Simmons and almost a second run as Kuykendall came home and the umpire determined she missed home plate, 13-5.
Florida got a triple by Boos in the fifth inning and a fielder’s choice plated the run, then bases loaded chance came up empty.
Florida added to the damage in the sixth inning as Boos and Garcia hit RBI doubles and an error brought in another run, 17-5.
After sweltering through the heat, some fans chose to buy popular NC drink Cheerwine.