State tourney time for all-stars
The eastern North Carolina state tournament begins Saturday for the Henderson-Vance 16-and-under Babe Ruth League softball all-stars.
Henderson-Vance is one of three teams in the tournament along with host Kinston-Lenoir and New Bern. Each team will play two games today, Sunday and Monday with the top two sides advancing to a best-of-three championship series. The two squads that advance to the title series will be invited to the southeast regional in Morganton.
Henderson-Vance meets Kinston Saturday at noon before a matchup with New Bern at 6 p.m.
Henderson-Vance, coached by Mike Norwood, advanced to the state tournament by defeating South Granville for the district title.
Southpaw pitcher Kelly Norwood won each game for the Vance County all-stars in district play and Mike Norwood said he got a balanced effort from his team at the plate.
Norwood’s 16s bowed out in the state tournament in Washington last summer. Then, the field was significantly larger in numbers.
Norwood said this year’s squad seems to have improved from 2013.
The World Series will be held July 30-Aug. 5 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
Wilson County, host of the previous two World Series, has won three consecutive titles and North Carolina is home to the last five champions including Henderson-Vance, the 2010 winner.
12s end on positive note
The Henderson-Vance 12-and-under softball all-stars will likely end the summer as district champs.
The 12s don’t have the numbers to make a state tournament appearance. Head coach Charles Jones said too many of his team members’ families had prior commitments on the holiday weekend.
But Jones is happy to close on a high note following wins over South Granville and Warren County in district play.
The 12s aren’t a traditional all-star team; the Henderson-Vance Recreation and Park Department’s 12-and-under division had only enough players for one team in the league.
Jones said his squad showed great improvement from start to finish.
Rielly Wortham led the 12s on the mound in district play, earning each win. Relief pitcher Chasity Allen also came on to strike out five of nine batters faced in the team’s second game. Allen added a pair of triples at the dish.
Jones also praised the play of Nadia Simmons, a big bat for the 12s and also reliable behind the plate defensively.
Note: The Henderson-Vance 15-and-under baseball all-stars are scheduled to begin state tournament play July 18 in Pembroke.