Things started promisingly enough for the Beaufort All-Stars.
Playing as visitors in their opening game of the X-Play Ponytails (11- and 12-year-olds) Dixie Softball state tournament in Bluffton, Beaufort got off to a fast start. Karen Rivers reached second and later scored on Chyla Simmons' ground ball to short to take a 1-0 lead over Pageland.
From there, however, it was all Pageland, which, fielding a squad of just nine players, roared back with three runs in the first before pulling away. When the dust settled, Pageland had rolled to a 15-5, 5-inning win over the hosts, who struggled to keep pace. There was a fourth-inning rally, during which Beaufort plated four runs to keep the game alive for a little longer, though it wasn't enough.
"We could be aggressive on offense," coach Charlie Simmons said of what he would like to see improved. "Make them play defense."
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Beaufort pitcher Margaret Schubert did her best to try to keep Pageland's bats off-balance, but her mix of off-speed pitches could only do so much. Some shaky defense and a handful of errors led to more runs for Pageland, who added four in the second and four in the third.
"We always tell them just have fun," Simmons said. "It's not totally about all the wins and losses."
Beaufort will attempt to stay alive in the Ponytails bracket at 5 p.m. Sunday against Florence.
BEAUFORT, BLUFFTON DROP ANGELS OPENERS
Both local teams came up short in the opening round of X-Play Angels division play, featuring 9- and 10-year-olds.
In the early game, Bluffton rolled to a 3-0 first-inning lead, but that cushion disappeared almost as quickly against a prolific Lancaster offense. Bluffton couldn't hang on in the late innings as Lancaster stormed to a 15-5 win. Despite the loss, coach Craig Kovacs said playing at home in front of so many fans was a good experience for the girls, and he hopes they'll rebound tomorrow.
"I think they had a lot of fun," Kovacs said. "We worked very hard to get to this point. Hopefully the results come out a little better tomorrow."
For Beaufort, it was the offense that was the trouble, as they were held scoreless against Sumter. Sumter put 10 runs on the board after three innings, enough to secure a 10-0, mercy-rule win. Beafort and Bluffton will face off in an elimination game tomorrow.
"This is a great experience for them," Beaufort coach Torri McCullough said. "It's a humbling experience, too. We'll get past this one."
Bluffton and Beaufort play at 5 p.m. Sunday.