ALEXANDRIA, La. — A year after placing third at the Dixie Softball World Series, Eric Deese saw a different look in the eyes of his players this week in Alexandria, La.
“We saw hurt in their eyes last year, and that left a little determination to win the title this year,” he said.
The Pembroke all-stars Dixie Softball team fulfilled their redemption of last year’s shortfall on Wednesday night as it won the Belles World Series, with an 11-1 victory over Mississippi in six innings.
“This is a great accomplishment to show that hard work pays off,” Deese said. “We came up short last year, but this year the girls were focused and put their hearts on winning this.
“We came back this year and battled hard to bring it back to North Carolina and Pembroke.”
Pembroke finished the tournament with a 5-1 record to claim the title. The victory in the championship game came less than 24 hours after Mississippi handed Pembroke its first loss of the tournament in a 9-4 ballgame. The North Carolina state champs had to beat Texas on Wednesday to earn the trip to the title game with Mississippi.
“They wanted Mississippi bad,” Deese said. “In that game we weren’t focused. So we came out and had a talk and they were more focused after that. We beat a tough Texas team because we wanted another shot to show that we were the best team in the field and wanted to come back to North Carolina with the championship.”
Summer Bullard hit a home run and knocked home two RBIs, while also throwing six innings and striking out four in the circle against Mississippi in the championship game. The one run the rising high school freshman surrendered was unearned. Angelica Locklear and Kara Deese each had a pair of hits and an RBI, while MariJo Wilkes had a pair of hits. Kaitlyn Locklear, Kyra Locklear, Josey Locklear, Torrie Butler and Carrington Harris each had an RBI.
Jalyn Herndon has three hits in the title game and Chloe Locklear had two.
Against Texas in the 4-1 win, Bullard had a two-run homer in the top of the seventh, and then came on to earn the save. Wilkes and Kara Deese went 2-for-3 with an RBI. Chandra Locklear pitched the first six innings and struck out six batters.
“All 12 of them did what we needed them to do and they all contributed,” Deese said.
A parade and celebration has been planned for the team on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m., and will run down Prospect Road to the Milton Hunt Memorial Park at the intersection of Prospect Road and West Third Street.
“We really thank the community for the support and the fans and parents that came to support us down there,” Deese said. “Everything that we were given from the fundraisers and everything given to us we appreciate it. Our girls didn’t want to let the town and community down.”
The Pembroke all-stars Belles softball team celebrates after winning the Dixie Softball World Series title over Mississippi on Wednesday.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.