OKEECHOBEE — Four local teams have earned a spot in the upcoming Dixie Softball World Series.
The 19U Debs, 12U Ponytails, 15U Belles and 6U Sweetees will all be headed to Oxford, Ala., to compete for a championship starting on July 31.
“I’m amazed at what they were able to do,” said organizer of the league Romana Baker. “They are awesome ballplayers. I can’t say enough good things about the teams, players and parents. The parents have really stepped up for these kids.”
A co-ed softball fundraiser was held July 25 at the OK Softball Fields. The players from the four teams volunteered at the event while adults formed a handful of teams and competed against other. The fundraiser raised close to $4,000, which will go to help pay for travel costs for players and their families.
If any of the four teams is able to battle their way through the tournament to the championship, which is scheduled for Aug. 4, they will now have enough money to pay for their entire stay.
“The community in Okeechobee has been amazing to these girls,” Baker said of the fundraiser. “I can’t even begin to tell you how good they’ve been. The Children’s Services Council were awesome to us. They gave a generous donation. The Seminole Tribe also gave a generous donation. The parents will now be able to go and not have to stress on how to pay for the hotel room. Our little town is struggling, but they are still coming out and supporting these kids. I’m very proud of Okeechobee.”
According to an interview with East Alabama Sports Today, national president of Dixie Softball Obi Evans says the organization is taking extra steps to keep the event safe.
Evans says Dixie Softball is discussing not letting anyone into the ballpark except the two teams playing on a specific field and their followers, then allowing them to exit before allowing the next two teams in. Also being discussed is shutting off public drinking fountains, requiring teams to serve bottled water in their dugouts and sanitizing the ball after each pitch.
“Life is on hold right now,” said Baker. “And this gives kids a little bit of normalcy. I’m really proud of the girls. They’ve been working super hard.”