Gumby's girls finish third SE Region

Friday, July 24, 2009
BFF (Best Friends Forever) meet after Washington eliminated the MC 12U stars at the SE Region Tournament in Richmond Virginia

The Marshall County Babe Ruth 12U girls made their mark at the Southeast Region Tournament at Dorey Park in Varina, Va. with their play on the field, finishing in third place, but more importantly, Gumby's girls made an everlasting impression with their unbelievable display of sportsmanship that will leave an indelible mark on all those in attendance.

The MC stars went 4-2 at the tournament, losing two times to the eventual champions from Washington, N.C. and in the process, the two squads bonded forever.

After a tough 5-4 first round loss to Washington on Thursday, the MC girls presented gift bags to the girls from N.C., complete with Sundrop, Moonpies, and other goodies from the Volunteer State.

One day later, Washington returned the gift bag favor and from that moment on the two teams became one, on and off the field, cheering each other on, hoping for a re-match and a chance to play each other once again, hopefully for the title.

Washington manager Ann Lang said later on, "That is what Babe Ruth is all about, the kids interacting. I thought you (Marshall County) were an excellent team, you are tops in my book. I think it has been very special for all the girls. You come to these events to play ball, but more importantly, it is about the girls interacting and becoming friends."

On the field, the MC stars bounced back from their 5-4 day one loss to Washington versus New Kent Va. in a big way, jumping out to a 3-0 first inning lead as Marshall County's MVP for the tournament Ashton Watkins led off with a double down the left field line.

Kiyoko Puca beat out a bunt single with her blazing speed as Watkins raced all the way to third and Puca ended up on second base. Mecia Reed followed with an RBI single to left and Taylor Wolaver followed Reed with a sac fly RBI to center that scored Puca from third, giving the MC stars a 2-0 lead.

One batter later, Allison Hargrove gave Gumby's girls a 3-0 lead with a sharp single up the middle that scored Reed.

New Kent came back with a run in the top of the second and then the rains came, delaying the game for four hours and twenty minutes.

After the rain delay, the two squads engaged in a defensive battle and an even more intense battle between the two pitchers.

Wolaver from Marshall County and Destiny Eberhard from New Kent were spectacular, holding each other's team scoreless the rest of the way.

New Kent made their biggest threat in the last inning as they got two runners on with walks, but the game ended on a crazy play as a wild throw from Marshall County's catcher went over Wolaver's head right to Watkins at shortstop, who alertly tagged out the New Kent runner straying off the bag at second, ended the game and keeping the MC stars alive with the 3-1 triumph.

Later that Friday evening, Marshall County took on South. Ala., winning 11-6 behind an outstanding combined pitching performance from Baylee Dowers and Wolaver and a 14 hit offensive attack.

South Ala. scored twice in the 1st inning before the MC stars came back with three runs in the home half on RBI's by Reed, Wolaver, and Madison Hargrove.

Savannah Oliver's RBI hit in the second inning made it 4-2 Marshall County.

S. Alabama came back to tie the game at 4 in the 3rd before Gumby's girls exploded with five runs in the bottom of the frame.

Puca led off the inning with a bunt single and stole second. Reed followed with an infield hit, putting MC runners at the corners.

Wolaver and Bruce had back-to-back fielder's choice RBI's to make it 6-4.

Madison Hargrove was hit by a pitch before Kelsey Wortham drove home two more runners with a triple into the left field corner, making it 8-4.

Breanne Dunkleman delivered another RBI hit up the middle that scored Wortham for a 9-4 lead.

RBI's by Wolaver and Bruce in the fourth inning gave Gumby's girls an 11-4 lead.

South Ala. scored single runs in the 5th and 6th innings, but it was not enough as the MC stars advanced to play Saturday.

On Saturday morning, the MC stars took on another Virginia team from Warren County and eliminated them from the tournament with a 5-3 victory.

Once again, it was the top of the MC order that did first inning damage as Watkins led off with a double to left, stole second and went to third on a Puca bunt.

Reed drove in Watkins with a single to left, making it 1-0.

Wolaver moved Reed to second and Charlie Bruce delivered Reed home with an RBI hit for a 2-0 lead.

Warren County would tie the ballgame with two runs in the second, but the MC stars came right back, scoring twice in the top of the third.

Watkins reached second on a one-out error, went to third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch, making it 3-2.

Puca beat out an infield bouncer, stole second and third and scored on an RBI fielder's choice by Reed, re-opening the two run margin for Gumby's girls.

Wolaver was tough in the circle for MC, holding Warren County scoreless until they pushed across a 5th inning run to cut the MC lead to 4-3.

Leading off the top of the 6th, Puca beat out another infield hit, stole second once again, and went to 3rd on a passed ball.

Reed, an RBI machine, drove in Puca with a fielder's choice for the all-important insurance run.

Wolaver surrendered a leadoff double to Dominique Gray before setting down the Warren County squad 1-2-3 for the win.

Next up for Gumby's girls were the talented girls from Madison County, Fla. and the game was a thriller from the start to finish as Marshall County game away with a come from behind 8-6 win.

Dowers was in the circle for MC and was in the groove from the start, giving up just one run as her teammates put up three to lead 3-1 after two innings.

Madison came back to score three times in the bottom of the third, taking a 4-3 lead.

In the top of the 4th, Dunkleman and Dowers drew one-out back-to-back walks before an infield pop-up made it two down.

Watkins stepped to the dish and lashed a single to left to tie the game and then Puca gave Gumby's girls the lead once again with an RBI single to center.

Fla. would not quit as they scored twice, taking back a one run lead at 6-5.

There was no scoring in the fifth as Marshall County was down to their last three outs in the top of the 6th, facing elimination.

There was no idea of giving up for the girls from Marshall County as Dunkleman and Dowers combined for back-to-back bases on balls again.

Jacey Perryman came up, trying to move the runners up with a bunt and laid down a perfect spinning bunt, beating the throw to first as Dunkleman came all the way home from second, tying the game at 6.

Watkins drove in Dowers with the go-ahead run, singling to left and Puca added an insurance run with a sacrifice fly to center, making it 8-6, going to the bottom of the last inning.

Hannah O'Neal walked, leading off the bottom of the inning before fate turned Marshall County's way as Watkins snared a hard line drive and fired to first for the 6-3 double play.

The next batter popped-up to Watkins at short, ending the game and sending Gumby's girls into a frenzy and into the game they all wanted with their friends from Washington.

Before the game even started, in an unbelievable scene of friendship and sportsmanship, both squads met on the field and did cheers together as the crowd look on with pride and amazement.

This was a moment that will be remembered forever!

Gumby's girls came out strong, scoring a first inning run when Watkins led off with a double down the left field line and was moved to third on a fielder's choice by Puca. Reed drove in Watkins to make it 1-0.

Washington came right back, scoring three times in the home half of the first. Catie Dority led off with a slap single and then Haley Wright and Adriana Tyson made it 2-1 Washington with back-to-back doubles.

Tyson came home on a passed ball to make it 3-1.

Haley Hutchins took control in the circle for Washington as she got in the groove and did not allow another hit until 5th inning.

In the meantime, Hutchins' teammates added three more runs in the third, making it a 6-1 ballgame.

Marshall County scored a single run in the 5th on an RBI single by Dunkleman before Hutchins got out of the jam.

The MC stars did not go down easy as Oliver singled to right to begin the 6th inning, but there was no comeback this time as Hutchins retired the next three MC hitters, ending the game and eliminating Gumby's girls from the tournament.

After the game, both teams met at home plate for a picture that was worth a thousand words.

Washington would go on to beat favored Pitt County, N.C. twice the following day, claiming the SE Region title and a berth in the World Series, beginning in Wilson, N.C. on August 6.

During both of those games, Washington would use Marshall County's "Big Dawgs in the House" pre-game break down, honoring their friends from Tennessee.

After it was all said and done, Lang said, "Winning the Regional Championship was very exciting, but what the girls talk about most and will remember long into the future was making friends with the girls from Marshall Co., Tenn. Seeing the two teams interact with such great

sportsmanship was very heartwarming. It was really amazing how the two

teams bonded. Tell the girls that our team used their "break-down" cheer

all throughout the championship games. It was like having the Marshall Co.

girls there with us. We hope to see all of you again. Who knows? Maybe we will see each other at the 2010 SE Regional tournament."

Marshall County 12U manager Mike "Gumby" Wortham talked about the sportsmanship between his squad and the Washington team and his team's performance in an interview, saying, "It was the most exciting and memorable tournament I have ever been involved in. After losing the first game to Washington, N.C. I said, "There is no way we came all this way to go two and through." Come to find out losing that game was possibly the best thing that could have happened. The friendships and sportsmanship that these two teams built after that first game will last for a lifetime for some of these girls. I am so proud of all the girls, the ones that have been with me for years and the new ones that this was their first experience."

Wortham added, " I'd like to thank my coaches Dwayne Dowers and Scott Walls for everything they have done to make this team what they are. And from all of us we would like to take this opportunity to thank the parents, WJJM, all the ones that made donations, and all the ones that were at home listening and supporting this great bunch of 11 and 12 year old girls."

The Marshall County 10U squad went 2-2 in the tournament, scoring a 17-1 opening round win over Davidson County, N.C., but lost to eventual champion Oviedo, Fla. in round two, sending them into the loser's bracket.

In round three, the MC 10's blasted host Varina, Va. 12-1 before being eliminated by Chatham County, N.C. 8-1.