The Vinemont 12U softball team and coaches made it all the way to the Dizzy Dean Fastpitch World Series this month. (Photo courtesy of Cathy Evans Johnson)
VINEMONT – Vinemont's 12-and-under softball team advanced to play in the Dizzy Dean Fastpitch World Series in Mississippi this month. The team fell on day two, but their coaches feel the team has a very bright future ahead.
The Lady Eagles dropped their first game, 12-2, but came back in game two to win, 16-4. The team went into day two with a lot of momentum, winning the day’s first game. They fell in game two, with the season suddenly came to an end. Vinemont still had a very successful season, finishing with a 16-6 record and a county championship.
Head coach Tumika Noblett and assistant coach Kenneth Knott, Jr. talked about the series and their team.
Of the World Series, Noblett shared, “Oh it was definitely the time of their life and ours as well. We went 2-2 finishing seventh. A lot of lessons were learned not just for the girls but us coaches too. I've never been so proud of a group of girls in my life. It was 115-degree heat index and they played their hearts out.”
Said Knott, “The experience is breathtaking. From the beginning coaches’ meeting, the opening ceremonies, and then it all hits home as you step foot on the field to play some of the best teams in the Southeast region. It's definitely an experience the girls, Tumika Noblett nor myself will ever forget. And we WILL be back!”
Both coaches had high praise for the girls.
“They learned that no matter how down on yourself you get, the team is there to back you up. That they loved being on a ball field no matter how hot it was out there and to fight to bitter end,” said Noblett. “I, as a coach, learned how passionate this team really is for this sport. We were very strong in pitching and batting. We just wasn't conditioned well enough for the back-to-back games in the middle of the day. The girls’ goal now is to work hard and get back there next summer. And to see them cry because they wanted to keep playing, that puts a smile on any coach’s heart.”
“Hard work pays off,” said Knott. “The girls they played against were tough competition. I mean some of these teams had 100 girls to pick from. Our girls learned what it really meant to win and lose as a team when there is so much riding on the line. The girls played every inning like it could be their last. And as a coach that's all we could ask for.”
Both coaches talked about the opening ceremonies and the talent at the tournament.
“The opening ceremonies really opened these girls’ eyes to the importance of this tournament. The talent as this tournament was absolutely unreal. Girls from all over with so much talent. That was a sight to see,” said Noblett.
“Yes, it did,” echoed Knott. “Being on that stage in front of 300-plus people opened their eyes for sure. And it gave them drive to want to come back and feel that feeling again.”
So what does the future hold?
“All of them but one will be playing school ball next year, after that they will play on a 14U travel team,” Noblett said. “Quite a few of these girls have the potential to play college ball if they keep the work ethics they have now.”
Said Knott, “The future holds rings. And I don't mean diamonds. I'm talking championship rings!”
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