There is but one stop light in the small town of Wewahitchka, Florida. Most of the time it works, but it's never a given.
And yet, the tiny community that has no Walmart but instead two Dollar Stores has put together a group of girls that captured the Florida state tournament and a berth in the Dixie Softball Ponytails World Series.
"We come from a little old town with 1,700 people and 14 girls on an all-star team," coach Tony Price said. "To come up here and compete at the World Series is unbelievable."
Price's team has done much more than just compete. On Tuesday night, the group became one of last two teams standing at Oscar J. Frazier Park after edging host Beaufort County, 3-2, in an elimination game.
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"They didn't give up," said Price, whose town raised $15,000 in a week to send the club to Bluffton. "They never give up. They play to the last out, they give it their all. We're still standing and we're going to play another game (Wednesday)."
They certainly played until the last out in this one. Ahead by a run with one out to go, Florida gunned down the tying run at third to end the game and punch its ticket in the finals.
After a walk to Margaret Schubert, Beaufort County pitcher Alexis Ortiz laced a base hit to right field that appeared to be heading to the fence. But right fielder Savannah Harrison cut it off before throwing into first baseman Gracie Price, who fired over to third baseman Ashley Lolley for the final out.
"Tough play to end it on," Beaufort County coach Eric Ackerman said. "Had the hit to right field, had the spin, looked like it was going to go to the corner. Ended up hopping up right to the right fielder. She makes a quick throw to first, relays it to third to get the out.
"Eight out of 10 times with that kind of hit and where it lands, that ball spins and goes. It just didn't."
It was that kind of night for Beaufort County, which also left the tying run stranded at third to end the fifth after Mia DeBardelaben and Olivia Gee both struck out swinging. Ackerman's team had taken a 2-1 advantage in the third on an RBI double from DeBardelaben and another run-scoring single by Kidron Martin, but gave up the lead an inning later.
Starter Alisa Depew walked the first two batters of the decisive inning before Brianna Bailey laced an RBI single off reliever Michaux Gee to pull Florida within a run. They took the lead for good a batter later when a forceout at third turned into a throwing error at first, as the Beaufort County third baseman tried to turn a double play.
It brought an end to an impressive run for the host team, which tallied wins against North Carolina, Virginia and Louisiana before bowing out.
"I'm really proud of them," Ackerman said. "Just to watch how much they've grown. Like I said, we have some travel ball players, but the girls that haven't played travel ball ... to see them grow is fun to watch."
Other action Tuesday at the Dixie Ponytails World Series at Oscar J. Frazier Park in Bluffton:
Hanahan (S.C.) 5, Wewahitchka (Fla.) 2 (8): Monday night's postponement due to weather was worth the wait for Hanahan. The South Carolina club scored three times in the eighth inning on just one hit, by Ashlyn Cribb, to knock off Florida in the winner's bracket.
The two teams were scoreless in the bottom of the second inning Monday when lightning arrived, forcing the two teams to resume play Tuesday morning.
Hanahan (S.C.) 4, Rockingham West (N.C.) 3: A three-run fourth inning by South Carolina broke a 1-1 tie and propelled the Hanahan squad into Wednesday's championship final.
Whitney Bennett ended the deadlock with an RBI single to left before Morgan Ferris and Sabrah Newman upped the advantage with a sacrifice fly and run-scoring groundout, respectively.
North Carolina scored a pair of runs in the sixth and loaded the bases with two outs before coming up short.
DIXIE PONYTAILS WORLD SERIES
When: July 27-July 31
Where: Oscar J. Frazier Park, Bluffton
Admission: $7 adults, $5 children ages 6-12, children 5 and under free
Watch: All games can be seen live online at www.bcgov.net.
Saturday, July 27
Game 1: Hanahan (S.C) 10, Old Hickory (Tenn.) 0, 4 innings
Game 2: Beaufort County (S.C.) 9, Rockingham West (N.C.) 7
Game 3: West Monroe National (La.) 8, Columbia County (Ga.) 7
Game 4: Blossom (Texas) 16, Hope (Ark.) 7
Game 5: Wewahitchka (Fla.) 9, Slocomb (Ala.) 3
Game 6: Amelia (Va.) 10, Columbia Dean Griner (Miss.) 9
Sunday, July 28
Game 7: Rockingham West (N.C.) 13, Old Hickory (Tenn.) 1, Tennessee eliminated
Game 8: Columbia County (Ga.) 16, Hope (Ark.) 3, Arkansas eliminated
Game 9: Slocomb (Ala.) 8, Columbia Dean Griner (Miss.) 4, Mississippi eliminated
Game 10: Wewahitchka (Fla.) 5, Amelia (Va.) 4
Game 11: West Monroe National (La.) 9, Blossom (Texas) 8
Game 12: Hanahan (S.C) 9, Beaufort County (S.C.) 3
Game 13: Columbia County (Ga.) 6, Slocomb (Ala.) 2, Alabama eliminated
Game 14: Rockingham West (N.C.) 4, Blossom (Texas) 3 (7), Texas eliminated
Game 15: Beaufort County (S.C.) 6, Amelia (Va.) 3, Virginia eliminated
Game 16: Hanahan (S.C) 3, West Monroe National (La.) 0
Monday, July 29
Game 17: Rockingham West (N.C.) 7, Columbia County (Ga.) 6, Georgia eliminated
Game 18: Beaufort County (S.C.) 2, West Monroe National (La.) 0, Louisiana eliminated
Tuesday, July 30
Game 19: Hanahan (S.C.) 5, Wewahitchka (Fla.) 2
Game 20: Wewahitchka (Fla.) 3, Beaufort County (S.C.) 2, Beaufort County eliminated
Game 21: Hanahan (S.C.) 4, Rockingham West (N.C.) 3, North Carolina eliminated
Wednesday, July 31
Game 22: Hanahan (S.C.) vs. Wewahitchka (Fla.), 6 p.m. (Field 3)
Game 23: Hanahan (S.C.) vs. Wewahitchka (Fla.), if necessary