Wednesday, July 30, 2014
The Georgetown Belles battled the heat July 27 at Retreat Park in Pawleys Island, as local men’s softball teams competed for bragging rights at a charity tournament and exhibition game to raise funds for the Belles to travel to Panchatoula, La., for the Dixie Youth Softball World Series.
Winning the state title gave the ladies a slot in the World Series bracket, but it also dealt them a financial curve ball which amounted to just over $18,000 worth of travel expenses.
“When you add up food, travel, and hotel for 12 players and their coaches, the money adds up quick,” assistant coach Mike Morris said.
Serving as ambassadors for their state, the Belles are required to present their first opposing team with a “goodie bag” of South Carolina items.
“That’s not cheap either…we have to raise money and get donations for that as well,” Morris pointed out, “We had bags and t-shirts printed, and some area businesses helped us out there too.”
The Belles normally play at 8 Oaks Park just west of Georgetown. The team consists of 12 players from Georgetown and Pawleys Island.
During the school year, nine of the young ladies play for Georgetown High School, and three play for Waccamaw. The team is coached by former Presbyterian College softball stand-out Mary Ellen Morris.
“The East Bay Booster Club and other area businesses have helped us out tremendously,” Morris said, “but we still did not have our budget covered, and these guys have rallied to help the girls out.”
From the sounds on the field and the smiles on their faces, no one would have ever known that the heat index was steadily rising above 100 on July 27.
The men’s teams and umpires were comprised of area businessmen, parents, off-duty emergency responders, and supporters of the team.
“It is very hot out here, but this is for a great cause,” said Pawleys Island Police Chief Mike Fanning, who donated his time to serve as an umpire for the day.
The men’s teams battled it out between themselves most of the day; playing for bragging rights and an opportunity to play the Belles in an exhibition match.
In the end, The Island Bombers would take the mound against the Belles. “We are here to have fun, but here to help these amazing girls out too,” said Island Bomber team member Bob Seganti, who was pleased to see so many people turn out for the day.
“These girls have been together and working hard for this opportunity for over five years…it’s nice to see the community rallying behind them.”
The girls were excited as well. Most of them had never been to Louisiana, and were looking forward to the championship, but also the opportunity to travel as a team.
“I am so excited for the game, but I am looking forward to the bus trip…I think it will be so much fun,” said first baseman Carson Wall.
Utility player Courtney Cooper was not as interested in the bus ride as she was the game.
“The bus trip?” Cooper asked, ”No, I am looking forward to winning, not playing, but winning.”
The Belles battled the Bombers and it was a struggle for some of the ladies to “play down” to the men’s rules. Batting first, the Belles walked to the box, each one with a different mumble or grumble on her way to the plate.
“We can’t slide? Are you kidding me…what do you mean I can’t steal, that’s what I do…how come they get four guys in the outfield?”
The men might have been there for a friendly game of softball, but these World Series-bound ladies took every swing, every throw, and every missed opportunity for a slide seriously.
There was an occasional grin, and a “Don’t strike out now Daddy” from the field. With the rules changed on both sides of the field, it must have been a chore for the scorekeeper to determine the “true winner.”
In the end, everyone was a winner; the players, the teams, the volunteers and the Belles.
The Belles will load their bus on July 30 knowing that they may be the only team on the bus, but they will travel to the world series with an entire community of support.