PDT Sports Writer
For the second time in five years, the best nine- and 10-year-old softball players from the Portsmouth Little League returned to Scioto County as state champions in their age bracket.
The 2013 team received a hero’s welcome Friday as members of the community greeted the squad led by a police escort to the Little League ball fields located near Spartan Stadium and Branch Rickey Park. Mike Williams, who coached the 2008 team, was in charge of this year’s squad.
“It never gets old, they’re totally two different teams, two different styles but I’m so proud for the (2008) girls to come and support the (2013) girls,” Williams said. “It just shows that there’s a good family atmosphere down here. I’m just so proud of these girls, they had a lot of pressure on them (because) they were the favorite in the district and in the state.”
After a perfect 8-0 record through district and state tournament play, Williams address the crowd of supporters Friday during the celebration.
“Obviously I’m so proud of these girls and so should you,” Williams said in his speech.
The 11-member squad — comprised of Cassie Schaefer, Isabel Cassidy, Sydney Whitman, Patrice Carter, Taylor Schmidt, Alex Glockner, Isabella Williams, Ava Hassel, Madison Perry, Claire Dettwiller and Ava Jenkins — outscored their opponents 98-9 during the two tournaments. The Portsmouth All-Stars defeated the team from Poland 6-1 in the state opener and 3-0 in the championship.
“They gave us a good fight, they had a good pitcher and they played really good defense,” Mike Williams said about the team from near Youngstown they defeated twice at the Clyde Community Parks. “We just kept keeping the pressure on them and we came through.”
In 2008, Mike Williams led a team of the same age group with his older daughter Peighton on the squad. She helped this year’s squad while her younger sister, Isabella, played third base and pitched.
Peighton Williams, along with former teammates Brooke Pierron, Carrington Ferrara, Amara Lattimore and Cameran Noel, were on hand Friday for the celebration. That club only lost once during its run to a state crown.
Little sister said it was amazing to match her older sister’s accomplishments.
“I’m very proud, it feels pretty good that our dad coached us and we both won,” Isabella Williams said.
Whitman, whose father J.D. is the head coach of the Notre Dame softball team, said the thrill of being a state champion was a dream come true.
“When I threw the last pitch, it was a strike and we all threw our gloves up in the air,” Whitman said.
One game during the run, three Portsmouth pitchers combined for a no-hitter. Schaefer, the team’s catcher, said she had to change gloves behind the plate.
“I feel like when I catch them, my hand hurts,” Schaefer said.
John Schaefer and Dan Cassidy joined Mike Williams as coaches on the staff. After the celebration, the team completed one tradition to cap off their Little League season that spanned 60-plus games.
Dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings.
Cody Leist can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 294, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking sports news, follow Cody on Twitter @CodyLeist.