LITTLE RIVER, S.C. — The rain shower coming down during the trophy presentation for the Dixie Youth Softball World Series championship game couldn’t damper the Lumberton 15-and-under All-Stars mood after capping off an undefeated run to the title on Friday.
Lumberton, which includes a handful of players from Bladen County, started out the championship with a big offensive first inning and went on to claim a 14-2 win over Virginia at the North Myrtle Beach Park and Sports Complex.
“They were nervous to start with, but once that got clear, they stepped up and played ball,” Lumberton coach Johnny Britt said of his team’s run through the World Series. “They just never gave up. That’s the part of this team I liked.”
The win is Lumberton’s first Dixie Youth Softball World Series title after getting a step closer each year since the program was founded three years ago. In its first year, Lumberton came in third in the World Series and followed with a runner-up finish last year.
“Three years ago, we started Dixie softball in Lumberton and we went from there,” Britt said. “Lumberton’s got a bright future. Our softball program is going to be really bright in the next couple years.”
In the first inning, Lumberton posted seven runs with JaiLeana Deese scoring Morgan Britt to start the frame off with a triple and Abby Dawson scoring two runs with a bases-loaded single to center field to end the run. Virginia got into pitching trouble in the first and had to call on a relief pitcher midway through the inning.
“I think they kind of ran out of their pitching,” Johnny Britt said.
A wild pitch scored Carley Dawson and two runs came in with a bases-loaded walk and hit batter in the first inning as well.
With an early lead, Lumberton continued to post runs to give its pitching run support over the next four innings. The pitching staff led the team during the tournament starting with the arms of Morgan Hatchell, Britt and Deese. Madison Collins and Katie Kinlaw also saw time in the circle in the tournament.
“Our pitching was phenomenal, I’ve got to give it up to all of them,” Johnny Britt said. “That’s what helped us out because other teams might have only had two pitchers at the most that were good. We were pretty fortunate to have a good pitching staff.”
Deese, a rising sophomore at Purnell Swett, came in and threw a scoreless third inning against Virginia and worked out a jam with runners on the corners while out there.
“The team was good behind me when I was up there struggling,” she said. “They (the other pitchers) did a wonderful job.”
Britt came on in the fifth inning to close the door and struck out the first two batters before inducing a groundout to second base to end the game.
“The pitchers really went out and threw strikes and let the defense play behind them,” the rising sophomore at Lumberton High School said.
Britt led Lumberton at the plate with two hits. Deese, Hatchell, Kinlaw, Abby Dawson, Carley Dawson and Kasey West each added another hit as well.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.