For most kids between the ages of 6 and 8, summertime may consist of no school, trips to the pool or plentiful time to sleep in. There is time to rejuvenate after a long and stressful school year to get ready for the next one.
However, for the Appomattox Dixie Darlings Softball Team, the summer has been an all-out grind to prepare for one of the biggest stages of their young lives, the Dixie Darlings World Series in Eufaula, Alabama.
The team was able to come from behind in the state tournament, as representatives of District 2, and earn a berth into the big dance off of a two-RBI walk-off hit from Hallie Vaughn.
Riding that same momentum, the Darlings, now known as Team Virginia, this past Saturday were able to continue their hot streak at the plate and best their counterparts from Florida in game one of the tournament by a score of 20-7.
In game two of the tournament Sunday, Team Virginia took on the host squad from Alabama, and despite putting up a courageous effort, fell 8-4.
The Dixie Darlings World Series operates under double elimination rules, which means a particular team has to lose twice in the tournament to be officially eliminated from competition. With this in mind, and their tournament lives in jeopardy, the team would play a doubleheader that day to keep their dreams of a title alive.
This time, at just around 7 p.m. locally and 6 p.m. Alabama time Sunday, the team had an extra boost of support from the Appomattox Community, as the important game versus South Carolina was live-streamed at the Rail Yard Restaurant in Appomattox.
The games, along with each of the others for Team Virginia, were streamed onsite in Alabama for all to see on the official Facebook page for Appomattox Dixie Youth Softball.
After being up 9-3 in the contest, South Carolina made a charge, but the young ladies from Appomattox held steadfast for a 12-9 victory, now moving the team into a contest versus the Darlings team from the Lone-star State of Texas.
With an audience watching and more than 500 comments on Facebook showing support for the team, Virginia would drop a heartbreaker in walk-off fashion by a score of 7-6, ending their magical run in the tournament.
After the loss, coach AJ Lucado was right there to console the team. He praised the team for their stellar record in district and state play, and said “there are hundreds of teams that would like to be in your shoes right now.”
Lucado told the team the level of play at the World Series is heightened because everyone is as good as everyone, but he did feel Virginia had the better team in the matchup versus Texas.
“Every now and then, we go through some slumps. But do you know how you fix it? You fix it in the offseason ...” he said. “The more repetition you give, the better you will become.”
In the end, the coach reminded his players to never forget the experience of playing in a World Series competition, as many do not get the chance to do what the girls earned their place in doing.
“It takes a lot of work, a lot of sweat and a lot of heart to get where you are ...” said Lucado. “I understand the hurt. I understand the pain but you cannot get down on yourself, you can’t give up. Because guess what? There is always going to be another round. It’s always going to be another round.”
Lucado’s postgame speech to the Darlings was broadcast on the Appomattox Dixie Youth Softball Facebook page and received many complements of congratulations asking the girls to keep their heads up after the accomplishment.
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