E.A. Sports Today

Getting their shot

The unique nature of this year’s Dixie Softball Series gives teams that might not otherwise been able a chance to play
By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today
OXFORD – Teams from the Perry County, Tenn., softball program, a Dixie Youth Hall of Fame program, have never played in the Dixie Softball World Series before. How they’ll do in it now they’re finally in this year remains to be seen. But just the fact they’re here with a chance to play for the championship is the big thing today.
Because many states didn’t have a tournament to determine their representative in the bracket, this year’s Series was opened to all comers. Teams that had never played in the Series would now have a chance in this year’s event at Choccolocco Park that starts Saturday.
“That fits us like a glove,” Perry Belles (15U) assistant coach Shane Easley said.
Just how long did it take Perry head coach Rhonda Warren to accept the chance to play in the Series? How long does it take to answer the phone?
“We’ve been to several state tournaments and come close before but not just quite got there,” she said. “I just feel like it’s a Godsend because our girls play hard, they work hard. They play ball. They want to go to the highest level possible that they can play.
“We’re giving the girls an experience that they’ve never had before. But we’re also here to play ball, show up and show them Perry County is made of.”
It wasn’t like they haven’t been capable. They just kept running into a roadblock called Wayne County and if organizers ever took more than just the state champion to the Series they might have made it before.
Now, the teams are in the same bracket, just on opposite sides. It’s a friendly rivalry. In fact, the teams played multiple times in their preparation for the Series. The earliest they could meet here is Monday.
“Their hearts and their talent is definitely there,” Warren said. “It’s just how much heart and talent they put into out there on the field when we play. But they do have the talent.”
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Series is the most unique in its 45-year history. The lineup of teams has changed often in the last two weeks. Some teams haven’t even played any games.
But tournament officials were determined the show would go on.
“It would have been so easy for people in Oxford to say we’re shutting down, too,” Dixie Softball national president Obie Evans said. “We’re highly appreciative of Oxford’s effort and hanging with us, hanging strong with us. Our girls will remember Oxford, Alabama, for the rest of their lives. For sure, I will.”

Cover photo: Perry County (Tenn.) Belles head coach Rhonda Warren (L) and assistant coach Shane Easley.

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