Over 60 travel softball teams from across the country competed in the annual World Fastpitch Connection (WFC) World Series event in Savannah July 14-20. Several Bryan County teams fared well at the event.
Teams had to qualify at the state level in order to participate. The event included brackets for ages 8 to 18. Bryan County players were totally or partially involved in eight of the participating teams.
Included in the tournament was 14U Georgia Thunder. The team includes RHHS Lady Wildcat players Olivia Bascombe, Cheyenne Marsh, Lauren Simerly, Karysa Ventura, Katie Nance and Caitlyn Casey.
Thunder Coach and Richmond Hill resident Jeff Marsh said the team didn’t place in the top five, but they displayed great effort and team work.
"It was a great experience for the girls," Marsh said. "It was great for them to meet so many of their peers from the surrounding counties and other states. Everything we worked on this year was shown in the tournament. They executed all the fundamentals to a T. For the girls to persevere through the ups and downs and a couple injuries, I was very pleased."
Marsh said the pitching from Simerly was a one of many highlights at the World Series.
"These players should be great additions to Coach (Alex) Gray and (Sean) Strickland’s Lady Wildcat team," Marsh said. "Next year should be a great one for RHHS."
All three age brackets of Richmond Hill Coastal Power (8U, 10U and 12U) made it to the World Series. This is the first year for the Coastal Power program. CP Director and 10U Coach Chad Newcomer said he couldn’t be happier over the fact that all three earned the right to participate.
Coastal Power 12U took seventh place while 10U took fifth and 8U took second place.
"Our goal when we created this program in December was to have all our teams compete in the world event and place within the top ten," Newcomer said. "This program has exceeded my wildest expectations and I couldn’t be prouder of all our players. The starting point of all achievement is desire, and I’ve seen that in each of the Coastal Power kids. The WFC event was a great one for all our kids."
Coach Andy Jennings’ 14U Richmond Hill Heavy Metal team ended their season with the WFC event. This was the inaugural year for Heavy Metal. Jennings said the World Series was met with a mix of wins and losses for his team, but it showed how much the girls really have improved since the season began.
Heavy Metal series highlights included Brianne Anderson led the team with 21 hits and a .327 batting average, Katie Shurling had 40 stolen bases, first baseman Kayla Taylor blasted a bases-loaded double off the wall to give Heavy Metal a 4-3 lead over the Ohio Liberty, Jeanie Smith pitched 20 strong innings and went 9-for-11 with four doubles, pitcher/first baseman Trisha Jennings batted .400.
The Pembroke-based 16U Renegades placed sixth in their division. The team includes BCHS players Samantha Howard, Rebecca Horton, Stacy Turner, Jenna Schuman, Tiffany Howard, Stephanie Turner, Rebecca Strickland, Jerri Hines and Sierra Newman as well as RHHS players Hillary Roberts and Lauren Davis. The team is coached by Steve and Christy Howard and Doug Foxworth.
"They played very well together as a team," Christy Howard said. "They just clicked better than they had all summer. They played hard we are very proud of them. We stuck close with all the teams and it was a very good week. They may not have won first place, but, in my mind, they were winners."
Howard said every game was close and the most they lost a game was by three runs. The Renegades made it to the final day of play, which is better than they did in last year’s WFC World Series.
Renegade series play highlights included senior Rebecca Horton hitting her first over-the-fence homer. Tiffany Howard also had a home run.
Ironically, it was fellow Redskin and former Renegade Bridget Bacon, as part of the Effingham-based East Georgia Thunder travel team that hit the final ball to cause the one run that knocked the Renegades out of the tournament.
Bacon’s East Georgia Thunder team ended up taking second place in the 16U division. The team also includes RHHS player Stefanie Ortiz and Richmond Hill resident/Calvary Day School softball player/Richmond Hill Idol winner Anna Hall. Most of the Thunder players are from Effingham County.
Thunder also racked up victories over the Savannah Christian Raiders and Brunswick Sting Rays before dropping the championship game to the Ohio Vikings.
RHHS Lady Wildcat Melanie Goolsby participated as part of the 18U Diamond Girls team. They placed second in their division.
The Diamond Girls team was one that was thrown together by Effingham-based Coach Carl Johnson just for the WFC tournament. They defeated teams from Ohio, Jacksonville and Savannah.
The Diamond Girls mostly consisted of South Effingham softball players. The team was lead by Georgia Southern pitcher Megan Smith.