LAURINBURG — Scotland County has been a hub recently for youth softball.
Optimist, one of the county’s two youth softball organizations — the other being Parks and Recreation — is sending a team to the Babe Ruth Softball World Series in Florida.
The Laurinburg 10U All-Stars competed in the Eastern North Carolina Babe Ruth State Tournament in Winterville back in June. The team finished 2-2 after opening the tournament with a 5-0 loss to the eventual state runner-up Wilmington.
Laurinburg then picked up back-to-back wins over East Beaufort, 16-7, and Havelock, 18-1, in the loser’s bracket. Due to rain, the tournament was moved from double-elimination to single and Laurinburg saw Wilmington for a second time and lost, 7-6.
The team performed well enough to advance to the World Series, which begins next Monday in Florida and will represent Eastern North Carolina’s Babe Ruth District 2.
Since advancing to the World Series, head coach April Johnson and her team have been hard at work fundraising in order to afford the trip. The team will host a BBQ plate sale on Thursday at Optimist Park from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and plates will cost $7.
This isn’t the first fundraiser the team has held — they’ve placed donation jars at local businesses, sold 50/50 raffle tickets, car wash and have held fundraisers at Domino’s, Main Table, Captain D’s and Tuesday at Zaxby’s from 5 to 8 p.m.
Johnson said the team is pretty far away from their goal and is hoping to raise several thousand dollars this week in a last ditch effort to cover the cost of the trip.
“The girls are going to be down there a minimum of six days, at most seven days, and it’s a nine-and-a-half-hour drive,” Johnson said. “We were required to get USA uniforms and other things, so we’re needing to raise another $7,000.”
The 10U all-star team is made up of a combined group of girls from all the Optimist 10U softball teams. Head coaches nominated their best players and the coaches then selected the 12 best girls to make up the all-star roster.
Despite being on different teams during the regular season, Johnson said some of her players have been together for the last three years and are very familiar with each other.
“They really work well together on and off the field,” Johnson said. “It’s made it easy for me to be their coach and to keep pounding for them because they are a great group of girls.”
Johnson said her team has set high expectations for themselves and hope to win the World Series, but no matter what she said they will take pride in representing their county on the world stage.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” she said.
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or [email protected]