E.A. Sports Today

Sweet victory

Ward 10 scores twice in last bats to win Dixie Softball SweeTees World Series championship

The Ward 10 (La) SweeTees take a victory lap around coach D.J. Hebert after winning their Dixie Softball World Series title Monday. On the cover, head coach Casey Hebert joyously comes to the dugout after the winning run scored.

By Al Muskewitz

East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – The chant went up as soon as the Ward 10 SweeTees got in the dugout for their last bats in the bottom of the fifth inning.

“Who’s gonna win,” somebody (reportedly third baseman Railynn Willis) started. “We’re gonna win,” came the reply.

The SweeTees may have been down a run coming to their last bats, but knowing the heart of the order was coming to the plate, they were confident. And that confidence was rewarded.

The Louisiana SweeTees came out of the chant with their second rally of the game, scoring two runs without getting out, to beat Around The Lake (Fla.) 20-19 for a sweep of their best-of-three Dixie Softball World Series series and the championship Monday at Choccolocco Park.

Shortstop Leaton Willis drove home Aniston McCain with the winning run with a solid single – the team’s fourth straight single of the inning – right after Aliyah McCain singled home Karlee Jones with the tying run.

“It was a dream come true,” Railynn Willis said.

Two other Ward 10 teams will be playing for World Series titles Tuesday, while a third will have to play its way into the championship game.

The Angels and the Belles will both be playing Wayne County, Tenn., for their respective titles, while the Ponytails X-Play has to get through Around The Lake, Fla., in order to meet Hatley, Miss., in their winner-take-all title game.

Since 2000, the most titles any one league has brought back from the Series is three (2013 Alexandria (La.) National Ponytails X-Play, Belles, Debs). Six leagues have brought back two titles from the same Series since 2014.

The Ward 10 SweeTees fell behind 6-0 in the first inning and trailed 17-12 before taking their first lead with a six-run fourth after setting the Floridians down in order in top of the inning. Railynn Willis scored the tying run when she alertly bolted for home with the ball still live in the infield. Emmylou Carpenter scored the go-ahead run on Chloe Whitstine’s single as the 10th and final batter of the inning.

They got to within one out of the win in the top of the fifth when Around The Lake rallied for the tying and go-ahead runs. But coming into the dugout Ward 10 was not deterred.

They chanted their intentions and then went out and got the job done. Karlee Jones, Aniston McCain, Aliyah McCain and Laeton Willis all delivered hits in the bottom of the inning to produce the victory. Ten of their 11 players scored runs in the game.

It was the third straight year Ward 10 has produced at least one Softball Series champion and third since 2001.

“We were a little worried (early),” said coach Casey Hebert, who promptly announced her retirement as coach after one year following the game, “but we had faith in our girls that they could pull it out. They know what to do. These girls have worked hard, not just this weekend, but in general over the past few weeks.

“You’re going to make me cry. This is my very first year of coaching. To start back home and to finish it out here as the champion, it means the world.”

With the final score in the background, the Ward 10 (La.) SweeTees display their trophy and their flag after winning their division in the Dixie Softball World Series Monday.

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