JENSON BEACH, Fla. — The Laurinburg Optimist 10U All-Stars advanced to the semi-finals of Babe Ruth Softball World Series over the weekend before being eliminated.
Laurinburg went 3-2 in 10U Diamond bracket to finish third. The 13 teams competing in the 10U bracket were divided into two brackets — Stars & Stripes and Diamond. The Stars & Stripes bracket was for teams that won their respective regional, whereas the Diamond bracket was for invitational teams, like Laurinburg.
“We did not have a regional tournament it was cancelled so we were listed as an invitational team,” said Laurinburg head coach April Johnson. “It was a challenge because, if we lost twice we were eliminated, but some of the Stars & Stripes teams would have to lose four games before they were out.”
Laurinburg opened bracket play with a convincing 14-4 win over the Semo South Sluggers of Missouri. In the second round, Laurinburg lost a close game, 6-4, to the North Tampa Twisted Sisters.
The local team run-ruled the Sikeston All-Stars, 13-0, on Saturday. The team played two more games on Saturday defeating the Los Altos All-Stars, 15-7, before taking on the TCAA Wildcats.
Laurinburg’s run in the World Series ended with a hard-fought 6-2 loss to the Wildcats. TCAA jumped out to a 5-0 lead through three innings before Addison Johnson hit a single. Johnson scored on a pass ball before teammate Carleigh Nolan hit a single.
Annagrace Adkins hit into an infield ground out, but advanced Nolan to second. Dawson Blue ground out to third base, but Nolan was able to head to third and give Laurinburg a runner in scoring position. Laurinburg put runners on the corners as Sarah Smith drew a walk.
Laurinburg loaded the bases as Addyson Johnson drew a walk with two outs in the bottom of the fourth. Peyton Giddens ended the inning with a ground out to TCAA’s second baseman.
Kinsey Hamilton held TCAA scoreless in the fifth inning, but the Wildcats put a final run on the board in the top of the sixth. Laurinburg started the inning off strong with a double from Nolan.
Adkins and Blue both drew walks to load the bases for Laurinburg with no outs. Smith hits into a double play as TCAA’s Mia LaTerra taps second base on the force out before throwing Smith out at first.
Nolan scored the team’s final run but it wasn’t enough as TCAA won the game, 6-2.
In the circle, Hamilton tossed all six innings for Laurinburg allowing six runs off 10 hits with six errors, three walks and three strikeouts.
Johnson was proud of the fight her team showed on Saturday playing three games in the Florida heat and humidity.
“They did really well — Saturday was hot and we were tired. We were on our third game that day,” she said. “I could not have been more proud of them for how they pulled together. We could not have done it without the community support, it was really awesome. To be blessed with the community we have is just great, it was a great group of kids.”
Laurinburg was led by Hamilton in the batter’s box as she recorded 11 hits to go along with 10 runs throughout the World Series. Hamilton tallied seven RBI and a triple.
Addison Johnson was second on the team with 11 runs off eight hits with a home run and eight RBI for a .421 batting average.
Johnson said early in the week her team was nervous but she reminded them it was just like playing at Optimist Park.
“Early on they had some jitters, but I reminded them the field is the same measurements and dimensions as the one in Laurinburg — there was nothing to be intimidated by,” she said. “Once they realized that they started to calm down and played really well.”
The best part according to Johnson was the girls she took with her Florida.
“I was blessed to have such a great group and the experience itself,” she said. “They had a wonderful time, they really enjoyed it. They enjoyed meeting girls from all over the world. It was an awesome opportunity.”
The WVAC All-Stars out of Debary, Florida won the Stars & Stripes bracket of the 10U World Series defeating the team out of Pitt County, 1-0, while the Germantown All-Stars out of Kentucky earned third place.
The North Tampa Twisted Sisters won the Diamond bracket, defeating TCAA, 7-0.
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or [email protected]