LAURINBURG — The Scotland County Dixie Darlings softball team has a steep hill to climb.
The 8U team will be competing against 10 other teams in the Darlings’ division of the Dixie Softball State Tournament, which will be held in Laurinburg this coming weekend.
The Scotland County Dixie Darlings is a team of seven- and eight-year-old girls and are one of three local teams participating in the tournament. The 8U team is coached by Willie Norton, who is coaching his first all-star team.
“Last year, my daughter played T-ball and I helped with her team,” he said. “My daughter wanted me to coach her team, it was my first year being a head coach.”
In preparation for this weekend’s tournament the Darlings have been practicing rigorously, because the girls have a goal of winning the tournament and advancing to the World Series.
”We’ve been practicing everyday, except Wednesday and Sunday, for the last two weeks,” he said. “They want to win the tournament, they are aiming to make it to next Wednesday because that means they are in the finals. All they want to talk about is if they win they’re going to Louisiana.”
Norton said the team is getting along great and he and his assistant coaches are encouraging them to be good sports — win or lose.
“We have a good, positive team, there is no negativity,” he said. “It’s going to be up to them to apply themselves. We’re going to leave it in the Lord’s hands, it’s whatever He wants to do.“
The Darlings is an all-star team made up of girls who played for Scotland County Parks & Recreation and Optimist.
The Scotland County Dixie Darlings will begin play on Saturday, July 14. The hometown 8U team will open the tournament against Cherryville at 11 a.m. on Field 4 at the James L. Morgan Complex.
The winner of that game will face the winner of West Chatham vs. Duplin County at 5 p.m. on Sunday. If the Scotland County Darlings lose they will drop down to the losers bracket and play Sunday at 1 p.m.
The other teams in the bracket are Dunn, North Stanly, East Columbus, East Rowan, Cherryville, West Stanly, Central Columbus and Lumberton.
Opening ceremonies for the Dixie State Tournament will be held at 5 p.m. on Friday, July 13, at the James L. Morgan Recreation Complex. UNC-Pembroke head softball coach Brittany Bennett will serve as the guest speaker.
Admission is $7 and games will be played at the James L. Morgan Complex and Optimist Park. All of the traditional Dixie Ponytail games will be played at the Morgan Complex.
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or [email protected]