Softball trio plays in harmony
Published 11:24 am Saturday, August 10, 2013
WINDSOR—Three local girls got the opportunity to have a once-in-a-lifetime event for the second time, and they look forward to doing it again.
MaKayla Burks, 11, E.J. Bankson, 12, both of Windsor, and Addy Greene, 11, of Suffolk, recently traveled to Orlando to compete in the USSSA ESPN Wide World of Sports World Series for 11 and under fast-pitch softball.
The Orion Hunter teal team, based out of Chesapeake, went undefeated in bracket play, beating teams from Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. The team ultimately lost in the championship to The Easton Speed 01 out of Smyrna, Tenn., but the experience itself was fun.
Adding to that, the game was televised on ESPN 3, which can be viewed from www.watchespn.com.
“It was really exciting and nerve racking,” MaKayla said. “There were a lot of teams there, and they expected you to be really good. Being on TV was really nerve-racking because if you messed up, everyone could see it.”
E.J., who pitched four innings during that game, giving up 2 runs, shared in her friends’ nerves.
“I was like really nervous,” she said. “I was also having a lot of fun, but mostly, I was nervous. I pitched in the championship game. It was really exciting, and it was nice to play good.”
Getting to play on the field was a cool part for Addy, just knowing that the Atlanta Braves play there during the spring, and that Olympians had also been there.
“The field was really big, and really cool,” she said. “It was cool knowing that all of those great people had played on the field we got to be on.”
All three girls having been playing softball for years, and MaKayla has been playing baseball longer than she can remember.
“I don’t really remember why I started playing softball,” she said. “I guess watching my sister play. It was a lot of fun, and I got to hang out with my friends.”
E.J. remembers playing t-ball when she was younger.
“I always liked the whole baseball thing, but I couldn’t play baseball because I’m a girl, so I played softball, which is for girls,” she said. “I love the game, and I love all of my teammates, so I’ll keep playing.”
Addy remembers making the team, and competing against E.J. before going to an all-star game and playing together. E.J. and Addy were scouted by the coaching staff during their all-star game, and invited to join the team.
“I remember meeting her for the first time in coach pitch. She actually wouldn’t talk to me then, and I thought she was mean,” Addy said. “But when we played all-stars together, we both got invited to play on this team. I like her now.”
“I love you guys,” E.J. then said, to which the other two girls repeated.
MaKayla, who later ended up on the team from knowing E.J. and Addy, was described as “Very funny. She is happy all the time and always trying to get people to laugh.”
Addy, on the other hand, does different “personalities and voices, and she does this weird laugh around close friends, but she can be quiet and shy.”
E.J., however, is the “Miss Personality” that the team needs, the one who brings it all together. They also described her as the knowledgeable one.
The three girls also didn’t want to leave their other teammates out, who live closer to Chesapeake. They all echoed that they could have never gotten as far as they did without their teammates.
“I love them, I couldn’t have asked for better teammates,” said MaKayla.
Last year, the girls won the NSA National Championship, and they competed in a national championship this year. They have no plans to stop at that.
“I thank God every day for the opportunity to play softball,” E.J. said. “Not every girl gets to play softball. And we got to play in back-to-back national championship games.”
“It was a once in a lifetime thing, but hopefully we can do it again next year,” MaKayla smiled.