Although the girls from Wheelersburg’s Little League softball team just won the Central Region championship Friday evening in Zionsville, In, head coach Dusty Salyers’ says his focus as well as his players has already shifted towards the Little League Softball World Series. “We’re not done yet, we’ve got one more tournament,” said Salyers as he addressed the crowd at the parade celebration Sunday afternoon, “We’re going to go out there not just to play, but to win it. And we need all your support.”
After beating Johnston Girls Softball LL (Iowa) 3-1 in the Central Region championship game, Salyers said the emotion was undeniable from his team. “They were ecstatic, they had tears of joy” Salyers said. “They were jumping, throwing their gloves. I can’t even really describe how happy they were. I just know when they needed that one out, I kind of looked around and they were up on the fence, couldn’t wait to rush out on the field.”
Wheelersburg not only handled their competition at the Central Region tournament last week, they were almost business like in the way they were able to go about winning. Burg has outscored their opponents 90-2 this postseason and outscored their opponents 41-1 in the Central Region tournament. “You can’t say enough about how dominating our pitching was, our defense only committed two errors the whole tournament run” Salyers said, “We haven’t had to do it yet, start with one and bring the other in to try and throw them off balance. I think if we need to, it’s something we can do. Start with Ashlee (Spence) a game, and if they start to hit her a little bit then bring AndiJo (Howard) in. I think that would make it really hard for teams to make an adjustment.”
Leigh Dakich, the ESPN color commentator for all five of Wheelersburg’s games last week, said in an interview with the Daily Times, “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a team at that age as well organized and as focused as they were. They came to win, and they did it very impressively.”
Porter Township pulled out all the stops for the parade, welcoming back the Pirates Sunday afternoon. Residents of the area sat by the road that led to Gene Bennett Park and waved as the long procession of firetrucks, police officers, and parents led the way as the team and Coach Salyers prepared to address the masses waiting to welcome them home. There was a feeling in the air, not only for the players, but everyone seemed happy and excited for the community. “Anytime that our community has a chance to come out and support” said Salyers, “you’re going to have support, you’re going to have a showing. That’s what is great about Wheelersburg”. This regional championship comes only eight months after the Wheelersburg Pirates won the Division Five state football championship. As Salyers addressed the crowd of a few hundred people, he was very gracious of his players and the efforts they made in order to reach their goals. “I want to thank these girls, and all the work they put in” said Salyers, “They really deserve everything they’ve gotten so far.”
The Pirates will travel to Portland, Oregon next week for the Little League Softball World Series August 8th-15th. Their first game will be against Liga Cuauhtemoc from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico, the representatives from Latin America. This game will be played on August 8th at 7 p.m. The other teams in the group with Wheelersburg and Liga Cuauhtemoc are Bacolod City West LL representing the Asia-Pacific region, Lake Oswego LL representing Oregon District Four, and Eastbank LL representing the Southwest Region.
For the World Series, each team is placed into one of two pools along with four other teams, making two pools of five teams. The teams in each pool play each other in a round robin style event. The team with the worst record and worst run differential in each pool will be eliminated, and the remaining eight teams will be placed into an eight team single elimination tournament, with the championship game on Wednesday, August 15th. Teams will be seeded in the eight person tournament according to their record and run differential in pool play.
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT