LAURINBURG — The Scotland County Dixie Belles softball team has done all the work in preparation for the opening round of the Dixie Softball State Tournament, which begins Saturday morning.
The 15U team will be competing against seven other teams in the Belles’ division, which consists of 13- to 15-year-old girls, and are one of three local teams participating in the tournament.
The team is coached by Kelli Taylor, who is an old hat at coaching after seven years in Scotland County Parks & Recreation. Taylor has coached a wide range of ages, from 7-year-olds all the way up to 14-year-olds.
The Belles is an all-star team made up of girls who played for Scotland County Parks & Recreation and Optimist. Taylor said the majority of her girls have played together for years, which gives them an advantage over some of their competitors.
“Our strength comes from the fact that six out of our nine players have been playing softball together since they began playing,” she said. “Their experience and knowledge of game helps the new members adjust well to team and learning fundamentals of softball. The new members were welcomed by other girls without hesitation.”
Taylor said her team’s other strength is defense, and her biggest concern is going to be in the circle.
“The majority of our practices focus on defense, and fielding the ball,” she said. “Pitching will be a challenge due to strict limitations on how much a pitcher can pitch throughout an entire tournament.”
Pitchers are not allowed to throw more than 10 innings between Monday through the following Sunday, according to the Dixie Softball rule book. It also states that a pitcher cannot throw more than seven innings in one game, except in the event of a tie game. In that case, the pitcher would be allowed to toss the eighth inning.
The Dixie Belles’ bracket features eight teams, including Pembroke, Sampson County, Cape Fear, West Lincoln, Hope Mills, Richlands, Scotland County and Anson County.
Scotland will open the tournament at 4 p.m. Saturday against Anson County on Field 2 at the James L. Morgan Recreation Complex.
“Our main goal is to advance as far as possible and to enjoy the game itself,” Taylor said. “There is pretty stiff competition, but we will give each game our best. We have put in numerous hours, days, and weeks of hard work. We are excited about this opportunity and pray for the best.”
If Scotland County wins they will play the winner of Hope Mills vs. Richlands on Sunday, July 15, at 4 p.m.
Admission is $7 and games will be played at the James L. Morgan Recreation Complex and Optimist Park. All of the Dixie Belle games will be played at the Morgan Complex on Field 2.
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or [email protected]