Louisiana, here we come!

By Staff
Hartselle's Belles go undefeated at State, advance to Dixie World Series
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
EUFAULA – Mother Nature stole the show with rapid fire volleys of lightning and thunder but that didn't stop a team of Hartselle all-stars from doing some grandstanding of its own in the final game of the State Dixie Belles Softball Tournament in Eufaula on July 18.
Entering the contest with nine straight victories (five in district and four in state) under their belts, the Hartselle all-stars quickly showed why they were the best team in the competition and deserved the right to represent Alabama in the 2006 Dixie World Series in Alexandria, La. July 28-Aug. 1.They blanked their opponent 10-0 on the strength of a 14-hit attack and a two-hit, 12-strikeout pitching performance.
The outcome of the game was never in doubt after Hartselle's starting pitcher Breanna Riley, a 13-year-old right-hander, struck out eight batters in the first three innings and her supporting cast responded by blasting eight hits and scoring seven unanswered runs.
Hartselle players as well as their fans were visibly upset when the tournament director ordered players off the field in the fourth inning because of a developing thunderstorm. With momentum clearly in their favor, they wanted the contest to be completed without delay.
When that didn't happen they took advantage of the break by mixing and mingling with Eufaula's coaches, players and fans. In a matter of minutes the scene looked more like a family reunion than a softball game. Introductions were made, telephone numbers and email addresses were exchanged.
An hour later, Hartselle picked up where it left off, scoring three more runs in the bottom of the sixth and forcing a 10-run rule to end the game.
In a jubilant celebration that followed, Dixie League and tournament officials presented the Hartselle team with a state championship trophy and extended congratulations and best wishes for its success in the World Series. Each team member was also introduced and presented with a medallion, trophy and certificate of participation.
"It's all heart," said head coach Mitzi Dobbins as she reflected on her team's championship run. "I've never had a team wait and wait and then come back to win like this one has. It's going to be interesting to see how they do when they go up against the best teams Dixie has to offer."
Hartselle's all-stars grabbed a 2-0 advantage in the bottom of the first inning on back-to-back singles by Danielle Carden, Leah Dobbins and Hayden Watts. They added three runs in the second, two in the third and three in the sixth
Riley was the winning pitcher. She allowed just two hits, recorded 12 strikeouts and didn't walk a batter in five innings. Carden pitched the final inning and didn't give up a hit or a walk.
Nine Hartselle players had hits in the game. They were Watts with a triple and two singes, Dobbins with a triple and single, Carden and Meghan Stephenson each with a pair of singles, Dallas Snell with a double, and Riley, Alex Paulsen, Jacquie Shadden and Katie Salverson each with a single.
Hartselle has not had a softball team reach the Dixie World Series since 1998. That year the series was played in Denton, Texas. Hartselle finished in third place behind the host team and the Texas all-star team. The city's only World Series championship belongs to the 1982 Ponytails. They won the tile in Gautier, Miss.
"Getting to the Dixie World Series doesn't happen very often," said Frank Miller, Hartselle Parks and Recreation director. "You have to be a pretty good team to do that. It's an experience the players, parents and coaches will remember for the rest of their lives."
Hartselle's first game will be against the host team on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

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