Babe Ruth 16-and-under team exceeds expectations
The Henderson/Vance Babe Ruth softball all-stars didn’t make it to regional play, but the 16-and-under squad managed to exceed expectations as its summer came to a close Sunday at the Eastern N.C. State Tournament.
Henderson/Vance finished third in the tournament after falling to Edenton/Chowan and Currituck Sunday.
Head coach Mike Norwood’s 16-and-under team was lacking experience. No players returned from the squad last summer that clinched a Babe Ruth World Series bid.
“Great experience for a young group,” said Norwood. “Should help them out a lot in high school next year.”
Henderson/Vance was shut out by Currituck, 6-0, Sunday afternoon. Currituck advanced to the championship, where it fell to Edenton/Chowan.
Henderson/Vance did post a 4-0 win over Currituck in pool play, but scored those four runs on the backup pitcher. The Currituck ace, Maddie Cartwright, held Henderson/Vance to six hits on Sunday, outdueling opposing pitcher Kelly Norwood.
“She’s very good,” Mike Norwood said of Cartwright. “Has a nice little riseball. She was getting very tired too at the end of the game. We could tell it. But so was Kelly. She was about to give out too.”
Currituck got two runs in the top of the fifth inning, scoring on Alexus Berndt’s sacrifice bunt before Allison Hartman slapped a grounder down the third base line into left field.
Currituck added three runs in the sixth and another in the seventh, finishing with 12 hits on the day.
“Great, fundamentally sound team,” said Mike Norwood. “Bunts very well. They got us on the small ball. That’s definitely what got us.”
Heather Satterwhite led Henderson/Vance with two hits and Kiana Alston, Kelly Norwood, Katie McAllister, and Jamakee Champion each added a hit.
Henderson/Vance fell 4-1 to Edenton/Chowan in a matchup that kicked off at 10 a.m. The Vance County all-stars didn’t wrap up Saturday night until about 1 a.m. Sunday after defeating Nash Central.
That match was delayed until 11 p.m. due to heavy rains Friday and Saturday. The last game at the Susie Gray McConnell Sports Complex, scheduled for Saturday, finished at 3:48 a.m. Sunday.
“It took its toll on the girls,” Mike Norwood said of the delays.
Mike’s daughter, Kelly, pitched every inning for the all-stars. Kelly and twin sister, Samantha, are rising sophomores at Warren County.
“Kind of mentally draining as much as anything,” said Mike Norwood. “We were hoping to get Katie an inning or two. It just didn’t quite work out.”
McAllister knocked in the lone run in the game against Edenton. Mike Norwood said his team played well once it woke up. Edenton scored its runs early on before the game turned into a pitching battle.
All but two Henderson/Vance players will be eligible to return to the 16-and-under team next summer.
“I feel like we should do good next year,” said Mike Norwood. “I feel like we’ll come back and do at least as good or better than we did this year. Knowing what’s here and what’s coming, I think we’ll do alright.”
Babe Ruth Eastern N.C. State Tournament winners
Champion: Edenton/Chowan; Runner-up: Currituck
Champion: Washington; Runner-up: Down East
Champion: Pitt County; Runner-up: Laurinburg
Champion: Pitt County; Runner-up: Wilson Xtreme
Champion: Pitt County; Runner-up: Wayne County North
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