SE Regional Softball Tournament underway in Lewisburg

Friday, July 22, 2011
The Marshall County 12U All-Stars were having a good time at the welcome picnic Wednesday night at Rock Creek Park in Lewisburg. The Danny Hollingsworth squad hopes to come away with a southeast regional tournament title this year and earn a trip to the Babe Ruth World Series in Andalusia, Alabama. Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

The Babe Ruth Southeast Regional Softball Tournament kicked off Wednesday night at Rock Creek Park in Lewisburg with a welcome picnic and on Thursday, twenty teams began play in 10U and 12U action at the Richard Cashion Sports Complex in Lewisburg.

Marshall County Youth Baseball & Softball League (MCYBSL) president Bobby Hurt said on Wednesday about the event, "Everything has gone good so far, we had a little rain tonight, but everybody has kept their spirits up and we are ready for some good ball starting tomorrow."

Marshall County's opponents in the 10U division from Union East in North Carolina were also loose and having a good time Wednesday night at the welcome picnic and they will put up a great fight when they face Marshall County in Thursday's opener.

Pool play will continue through Saturday with the finals taking place on Sunday, beginning at 9:00 a.m.

"Everything seems to be happening at one time in the county," said Hurt. "The Tractor Pull is up in Chapel Hill, I think the Belfast Horse Show starts Friday, and the tournament here. It's good for the city of Lewisburg and for the entire county."

The defending southeast regional champions in both age groups, Pitt County, North Carolina (10U) and Altamonte Springs, Florida (12U) are here and both powerhouse squads have hopes of repeating, but the two Marshall County teams should give them a real run for their money.

"Pitt County from what I hear is awesome," said Hurt. "But our girls can play with anybody. Our girls will be very respectable, they are no slouches, and nobody is going to run over them. They are two very good ball teams."

Pitt County defeated Marshall County 11-3 in the 10U championship game last season, but it marked the best finish by any girls' softball squad in MCYBSL history.

Danny Hollingsworth coached the 10U ballclub in that game and is currently the skipper of an experienced and very talented 12U squad.

Six girls from last year's 10U team have moved up with Hollingsworth, who likes his chances this weekend.

"There is only one way to go and that is up, and that is where we are headed, I hope," said Hollingsworth. "We have real good kids pushing good kids, which only makes them better. We have so many girls that can play so many positions, no spot is secure."

Hollingsworth and his state champion team have been busy preparing, playing every weekend leading up to the tournament and practicing in the intense Hollingsworth style.

"We started practice four weeks ago and we are still looking for that perfect combination," said the coach. "We have a great defensive team, some good pitching, some big hitters, and good bunters, so we have a good combination of girls. We are going to strap it up come three o'clock tomorrow afternoon and play."

Hollingsworth added, "I told the girls coming over here. You go out on the field, give a hundred and ten percent and play as hard as you can, and when you look up at the scoreboard after six innings, you hope you are on top. That is all you can do."

The 10U Marshall County All-Stars were hamming it up on Wednesday night, but they will be all business this weekend at the Babe Ruth Southeast Regional Softball Tournament in Lewisburg.

Guiding the 10U state championship squad is David "Tooter" Paul, who said about the big shoes his ballclub has to fill.

"They set the bar pretty high for us, but you know how Marshall County is, we stand behind our programs and I think these girls are up to it."

Like the twelve's, the 10U girls have also been busy preparing for the tournament and opened up Thursday versus Union East from Western North Carolina.

"The girls are pretty excited, they want to play, all they want to do is play at this point," said Paul. "I'm a little nervous, but I feel the same way, I just want to get playing."