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All-stars win state championship

The West Lincoln Optimist 11 and 12-year old girls’ all-star softball team won the North Carolina State Championship last weekend in Stanfield, N.C.
The Tournament began last Friday and went through Tuesday night. West Lincoln went 4-1 beating Sampson, 7-4, then losing to Dunn 3-0. In the loser’s bracket they defeated Leland 15-5 before beating West Stanley 8-1.
West Lincoln received a bye via a draw due to three teams having a 3-1 record. Then in the finals on Tuesday night they beat South Stanley, the defending state champions 9-2.
The win qualifies them for the Dixie Youth World Series in Alexandria, La. beginning July 30.
The team’s efforts were aided by strong pitching from Ashley Rhyne and Emily Workman. Rhyne pitched a complete game against West Stanley,while Workman pitched a complete game against South Stanley.
Defensively, Teneil Ingle spearheaded the squad’s efforts. Laura Barrett led them at the plate. Other pitchers were Sadie Saine and Addy Pound.
West Lincoln head coach Nathan Workman believes the girls’ work ethic is the main reason for their success.
“This is the hardest working group I’ve ever coached. Laura is an excellent player. Defensively, Teneil didn’t make an error the whole tournament at third base,” he said.
“Ashley, in every game she pitched, had a great game. In the championship game, Emily was totally focused on what she was doing. I think she only walked two batters,” Workman said.
Assistant coach Greg Pound felt it was West Lincoln’s heart that carried them to a state championship.
“They really played as a team. They played against some girls that were twice their size, but they stepped up,” he said.
Workman feels the magnitude of their accomplishment hasn’t sunk in yet.
“I think it’s the first Lincoln County team ever. It’s a pretty big deal. I don’t think they realize now how big it is until they get down there to the World Series,” he said.
West Lincoln’s will open play against the Louisiana state champions on July 31. Workman is not sure what to expect, but he and his team are excited.
“We’re going to go down there and play as hard as we can, keep our minds focused on every game. We don’t have a clue what we’re getting ready to be in for. The way everybody talks to us, it’s going to be a big treat for the girls,” he said.
When asked if his team just gelled in time for the state tournament, Workman responded saying they become a cohesive unit well before that.
“Ever since the first of practice this team has come together. They’re strong, keep their mind focused, a good hitting team and defensively they’re as sound as any team I’ve ever coached,” he said.
West Lincoln’s other assistant coach Rusty Saine has also enjoyed the ride.
“It’s been a real pleasure to coach the girls. All the girls had great attitudes, worked really hard and come together as a team,” he said.
Having already tasted success and with the World Series looming, one more obstacle stands in front of West Lincoln- money.
Saine feels that’s the main thing standing in their way.
“It’s very important that we get local support through businesses and individuals. If they can donate time or money. It’s going to cost a lot of money for the girls for not only the team but the parents to make it to Louisiana too.”

by John Mark Brooks

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