For the third straight year, a group of local softball players will represent Chatham County at the Dixie Youth Softball World Series in Alexandria, La.
The West Chatham 15U All-Stars recently earned their bid to the 2023 Dixie Youth Softball Belles (15U) World Series after winning the North Carolina Dixie State Championship. The tournament was held from July 8-12 in Southport, where West Chatham went 5-1 and held a 53-24 run differential.
Coached by Todd Hill, Billy Jordan and Kyle Gardner, the 15U All-Stars squeaked by Lumberton, 7-6, in its first game thanks to some big hits from Emma Grace Hill, Alyssa Harris, Madalyn Holton and Maddie Kaczmarczyk.
In the team’s second contest, West Chatham dominated South Columbus, ultimately winning by mercy rule after going up 17-1 in the fifth inning. The 15U All-Stars plated their first three runs in the first inning thanks to RBI from Hill, Kaczmarczyk and Abigail Johnson. Holton then hit a home run in the second inning to put her team up 4-0. The team tacked on 11 runs in the third to put things out of reach for good.
The team’s next game ended by a score of 12-2, but 15U was actually tied with the West Stanly All-Stars heading into the fifth inning before things got out of hand. Singles by Kalynn Long, Adison Gardner and Aryana Teague scored four total runs, while four more runs came courtesy of doubles by Hill and Harris. The game ultimately ended when Kaczmarczyk stole home to plate West Chatham’s 12th run. The team also benefited from some solid defensive work, including strong play by Jasmine Sorto, Heidi Vicente, Lilly Allen and Kinley Jordan.
A double-header on Day 4 of the state tournament saw West Chatham start with a win over Pembroke, but Game 2 saw the All-Stars at the wrong end of an 11-0 loss to Duplin County. Despite the loss, West Chatham had already clinched its ticket to the tournament final, which came on Day 5 in a rematch with Duplin County.
Unphased by their previous loss, the All-Stars took down Duplin County 3-0 in the championship game. Kaczmarczyk and Hill combined to throw a scoreless game while striking out a total of 11 batters. Offensively, West Chatham scored its runs courtesy of two RBU singles by Harris and another by Johnson.
Two West Chatham players — Gardner and Allen — are set to make their second Dixie World Series appearance in as many years. Last summer, the pair made it to the Dixie Youth Softball Ponytails World Series as part of the West Chatham 12U All-Stars.
The year before that, in 2021, West Chatham’s 10U team made the Dixie Youth Angels World Series, where it finished third overall.
Before West Chatham makes its trip to Louisiana for the Dixie World Series, it is trying to raise money to help with travel expenses for the players and their families. The team has a GoFundMe page set up with a $5,000 goal. As of the time this story was written, only $870 had been donated so far.
The All-Stars will have additional fundraising events this upcoming weekend. On Friday from 2-8 p.m., Al's Diner in Pittsboro will donate a portion of its sales to the team. The following day in downtown Goldston, the West Chatham team will host a bake sale from 9 am to 1 p.m., with all the proceeds going to the team.