Local 12U standouts triumph in Summer Slam

Published 11:15 am Saturday, August 26, 2023

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The Southampton County Girls’ Softball 12U All-Star Team stood out from among the field of nine 12U teams at the SCAA Summer Slam Softball Tournament in July, showing resilience as it orchestrated an undefeated championship run.

The Southampton 12U squad competing at the Southern Chesapeake Athletic Association Sports Complex was composed of 13 girls who were either 11 or 12 years old, and they were selected from five county teams, including two from Newsoms and one each from Capron, Ivor and Sedley.

The Summer Slam Tournament, largely featuring all-star teams from southeastern Virginia and travel ball teams as well, was scheduled to run from Saturday, July 8, through Sunday, July 9, but inclement weather on July 9 forced the girls to return Monday, July 10, in order to finish the semifinal game and play for the championship.

The Southampton 12U all-stars opened their run in the tourney with a 15-6 victory on July 8. The opposing team selected an MVP award for the game, and the award went to Southampton’s Grace Gillette for her excellent work in the circle.

The local girls concluded their play that day with an 18-0 mercy rule-abbreviated victory. Staniyah Darden received the MVP award in that contest for her outstanding play at the catcher position.

The single-elimination portion of the tournament began July 9, and the scores of the Southampton all-stars’ July 8 games garnered them a No. 2 seed.

The Southampton 12U all-stars advanced to the semifinals with a 9-0 victory on July 9, benefiting from inside-the-park home runs by Molly Starkweather and Kylie Cooke.

Southampton team officials noted that the semifinal game was a battle.

“The all-stars had just taken a narrow lead when the game was called for weather,” team officials said. “The team returned Monday evening to finish 27 minutes of game four and were able to hold on to the lead and win 5-3, sending them to the championship game.”

The title game, played on the evening of July 10, pitted Southampton County’s all-stars against SCAA’s select team, the Chesapeake Riot, which was also unbeaten in the tourney.

The two teams were locked in a tie through the third inning, but the Southampton girls broke through in the top of the fourth, earning seven runs. They went on to win definitively, 9-3.

Jay Fox, of Capron, head coach of the Southampton 12U All-Star Team, was quite pleased with his team’s performance.

“I knew we had a talented group of girls right off the bat, and I knew we’d be competitive, but going down to a tournament like that where teams are coming from all over and all the kids play year-round and they play travel ball, it was a pleasant surprise that we did so well, and I was just really proud of the girls,” he said. “They played tough — mentally tough, physically tough — and they had a great time playing together. And it was just a pleasure to coach. All the coaches and I, we just loved the team.”

Fox’s coaching staff included Assistant Coach Matthew Gillette, of Capron, and Assistant Coach James Thomas Cooke, of Newsoms.

Fox noted that the girls found chemistry as a team in a short period of time, particularly in comparison with some of their tournament opponents.

“A lot of these teams play year-round together, and we put this team together basically four or five weeks before the tournament, so I think we only had five practices together as a squad and just jelled quickly and went down there and just did a great job,” he said. “Just so proud of them.”