One of the early highlights during summer vacation for baseball and softball players is their All-Star run. The deeper the calendar reaches August, the more memorable that run is.
For the White Pine Little League softball majors’ team, they had an unforgettable All-Star run that concluded in the Nevada State Tournament on July 8.
The White Pine majors’ team, who won the Nevada District 3 tournament a few weeks ago, were taking on Summerlin South and Centennial in a three-team double elimination tournament at the Battle Mountain Sports Complex with the winner advancing to the West Regionals in San Bernardino, Calif.
Centennial Sparks, who are from the Reno area, was White Pine’s first opponent on July 6.
Ultimately, things didn’t go White Pine’s way as they mustered just one hit in a 16-0 loss that ended through four innings due to mercy rule.
White Pine gave up three runs in the opening frame and Centennial added on with six more in the second before finishing the game with seven runs in the fourth before White Pine could plate one.
“Centennial came to play and we were not ready to play that first game,” White Pine majors head coach April Bath said. “We did not play to our full potential and that showed in that score. We weren’t settled in, we weren’t ready to go and it affected us that first game with that loss.”
As a result, Bath’s team had to quickly rebound two days later, now facing elimination against Summerlin South, who reside in the Las Vegas area, on the west side of the valley.
Understanding the team was one loss away from being ousted, Bath knew that she had to get her team back on track, not only physically, but also mentally.
“I wanted them to show up and have fun and be present for this game and that’s what I kept telling them,” Bath said. “We knew it was do or die. But when my softball girls are having fun, that’s when they play their best. So, we were trying to pump them up.
“During warmups, we were singing, we were playing music. Everybody was in the right headspace. They were excited. They were talking and laughing, and that team camaraderie was back again for that last game and that’s what I was happy to see when we hit the field.”
That motivation was key to keep White Pine in the game as there was no score through four innings.
As zeros were going on the scoreboard, not only was the intensity building from the crowd from both sides, but also from behind the plate.
“Even the umpire made a comment that this is what little league is about. It’s these teams battling it out that these girls play in,” Bath said.
Like any game in a standstill, it eventually gave way to one side, and it ultimately went Summerlin South’s way as it plated five runs and took advantage of a couple of errors from White Pine in the fifth inning.
Those five runs were too much for White Pine to try and complete a comeback. White Pine scored two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning as it turned out to be a little too late.
Seeing the response from the first game to the second was the silver lining Bath was trying to find within her team, which she got.
“I was incredibly proud of those girls that second game. They played to their level,” Bath said. And that’s what was important to me.”
Despite being eliminated, Bath said her message to the team after the loss was the learning experiences for the future, in addition to the competition and energy that was made in and around the field.
“I told those girls that I’m a softball coach, but I’m also a mom and we’re building character in these girls,” Bath said. “I was incredibly proud of them representing White Pine and themselves. We had several tournament directors come up to us and tell us what an incredible, respectable team we have. What a fun team we have. Everybody loves to play White Pine because we have such great fans and a great team.”
Although the team was knocked out in the Nevada State Tournament, Bath had seen plenty of growth from every single one of her 12 players.
She said this experience was beneficial for the players as they continued their growth, not only on the diamond, but also their connections with one another as teammates and friends.
“We’re lucky here at White Pine. These girls play on different team sports but they’re all together,” Bath said. “They get to play all these sports together and we’re not building new teams every single year.
“These girls get to build on what they learned this year and take it into next year and going into high school. So that’s what is important to us. And that’s what I’ve seen with growth is they were building those relationships with each other of bonding more as teammates.”