Winfield Little League softball wins Southeast Region
CHARLESTON — Every step the Winfield age 8-10 Little League Softball All-Stars took this summer was a new one.
An age group that had not won a district title before this year finished the 2018 campaign holding aloft the trophy at the highest level that age group can achieve. That Winfield team won district and state titles and captured the Southeast Region title in the Little League Tournament of State Champions in Clarksville, Tennessee.
Even for players that young, Winfield head coach Matt Nelson said familiarity and experience together were some of the key attributes leading to the team’s success.
“Almost all of them have been playing coach-pitch and player-pitch since they were 6 or 7, and half the team has been playing travel ball together for two years as well,” Nelson said.
“The cool part about the Little League team is that they’re all from the same community. They all go to school together and play multiple sports together.
“They’re best friends at school and good friends on the team, too.”
Through its run in its district, state and regional tournaments, Winfield won by fewer than six runs just once, a 7-6 win over St. Albans in the championship round of the West Virginia District 3 tournament. Otherwise, the team sailed past its competition, winning by double digits in eight of its 13 games. In that 13-0 finish, Winfield outscored opponents 151-23.
In competition in Clarksville, Winfield took on Montgomery Central from Clarksville, Irmo, South Carolina, and Bartow, Georgia, in pool play before facing Bridgewater, Virginia, in the championship game.
While the 14-4 score in the title game might look as though it was a breeze, Bridgewater actually went up 3-0 on Winfield in the top of the first inning. Winfield, however, came right back to tag Bridgewater with six runs in the bottom of the first.
It was a mixture of emotions as the girls began to realize what they were about to achieve, Nelson said. There was joy in knowing they were victors, but a little bit of melancholy in realizing the wild ride was about to come to a close.
“Once we got close to wrapping it up, they were happy and relieved and I think all the parents and coaches were happy and relieved,” he said. “After we celebrated for a little bit, everyone was sort of sad it ended.”
Team members were Allison Hoffman, Sydney Taylor, Natalie Cook, Ruby Stutler, Evie Loyd, Maddie Morris, Rylee McClellan, Emeri Nelson, Ava Robinson, Cami Samples, Eva Sweeney, Kenlie Zigmond and Trinity Winter. Coaches were Nelson, Kenny Zigmond and Dana Samples.