JOPLIN, Mo. — The Wheelersburg 11-12 year old All-Star team had no shortage of success this year, winning enough games to represent Ohio in the regional tournament in Missouri this week.
While there, Team Ohio went 4-2 and came just one win short of the Little League Softball World Series.
“The team is actually a very hard working great group of kids,” coach Greg Sparks said. “I have nothing but praise for all of them.
“This young group of ladies are a pleasure to coach,” he added.”
The team defeated Kentucky 5-0 in game one, lost to Indiana, beat Missouri, crushed South Dakota, defeated Kansas and beat Indiana again to reach the title game.
Setting up the familiar rivalry of Ohio vs. Michigan, the team from up north came away with a close 3-2 win.
“It just came down to luck basically,” Sparks said. “They were both pretty good teams.”
Wheelersburg outscored its opponents 86-6 in district and state play and outscored its regional foes 51-32, capping a successful season.
“The credit for this belongs to every coach, dad, mom, brother, sister or volunteer that has helped a child enhance their skills in a sport they truly love,” Sparks said.
The tournament was about more than just playing between the lines. Players also got to meet athletes from other states. Tournament organizers hosted a luncheon for each of the 13 teams, seating only two players from each state at the same table to force interaction. The Wheelersburg girls primarily bonded with the girls from Nebraska.
“They all got to text each other and they got the cell numbers and they’ve been been texting all the way back from Missouri with those kids....,” Sparks said. “Once the games were over it was nothing but the utmost respect for those kids.”
Wheelersburg Little League President Richard Roe thanked the team’s coaches, parents and the community for all the support.
“I think that Greg (Sparks) and Mike Nolfi have done an excellent job,” Roe said. “They have a very talented team. I’d also like to thank Tom Floyd... He gave the girls valuable info on what to expect and how to act.”
Elsewhere in Little League
The Wheelersburg 9-10 year old girls All-Stars defeated Tallmadge 5-4 in Astabula Thursday to win their own state championship and the 9-10 year old boys All-Stars won 1-0 in Cambridge to advance to their own state title game.
11-12 Year Old Girls
Wheelersburg 5, London Kentucky 0
Indiana 11, Wheelersburg 2
Wheelersburg 16, MIssouri 12
Wheelersburg 14, South Dakota 2
Wheelersburg 9, Kansas 2
Wheelersburg 3, Indiana 2
Michigan 3, Wheelersburg 2