Ridgeland honors local U-10 softball team
Wednesday, August 6, 2014 1:00 PM
RIDGELAND - The Ridgeland Board of Aldermen had some important business to attend to Tuesday afternoon at it's regularly scheduled meeting, and it wasn't approving a new cell phone tower or planning road reconstruction.
No, the first order of business Tuesday was honoring the Performance Sports Academy Lady Sox U-10 softball team, which a week ago captured the United States Fastpitch Association Southern National Softball Tournament.
The girls came to the podium and were awarded a pin, emblazoned with the city's seal, and congratulated by Mayor Gene McGee and the city's aldermen.
"I'm very proud of these girls," coach Josh Zeitz said. "We competed with teams from across the southeast, and it's traditionally the toughest competition in the country. But these girls played great, and they got better as the tournament went along."
That may be an understatement.
The Lady Sox went a perfect 7-0 in the tournament - one of two national championships held in the United States (one North and one South). They beat all comers by a combined score of 47-8, including a 6-5 win over the Louisiana Pride team in the championship game. If you're keeping score at home, that means these girls won their other six games by a combined score of 41-3.
Even more impressive, the Lady Sox committed just one error as a team in seven games. "And it wasn't a throwing error or a ball that went through someone's legs," Zeitz said. "One of our girls just bobbled a ball, and she still almost got the out."
The Southern National Tournament title was the team's fifth of the summer, and they finished with an overall record of 62-11.
It was a great run - a run for which outfielder Chloe Carter said she was glad to have traded her summer vacations.
"The tournament in Gulfport was big," Carter said. "It was nerve-wracking, but exciting. It was really loud because there were so many people."
None of that pressure seemed to matter for these girls, but if you look at the history of the individuals on the team, it's hard to imagine they'd shy away from the big stage.
Nine of the players squared off against each other on two different teams - four on one team and five on another - in the 8-U Mississippi state championship two years ago. When it came time to form a 10-U travel team, Carter and Zeitz's daughter, Hanna (both from Madison County), were two of the four original Lady Sox.
"We had one practice with just four of us," Hanna Zeitz said. "After that we had a tryout, and we put together a team of great players. We weren't that good at first, but we played in a couple of tournaments and we kept getting better."
Second-baseman Taylor Martin, also from Madison, said it's easy to do when you have a team that is like a second family and a coach who is willing to push you to find your potential.
"Coach Zeitz is great," she said. "He's nice, unless you make him mad. He'll yell if you make a mistake you know you shouldn't make, but he's fair."
One thing's for sure - the coach much have an eye for talent if he put together this team, and he's not about to let them go.
Coach Zeitz said the plan is to move up to 11-U next year, and keep the team intact. They have one player who is nine and will have to stay behind and another who has opted not to play next year, but the core of the team will remain together.
And you can bet they'll be looking to add a few more trophies to the case.
"It's pretty amazing," coach Zeitz said. "All but two of these girls are from the immediate metro area, and if they continue to develop as players, the sky is the limit."