The eight-and-under All-Star Softball Team from Wilmington Fastpitch cruised to the North Carolina Little League Championship over the weekend following a 14-3 route over Franklin to give the Port City its first 8U Little League Softball Championship.
Led by Head Coach Scott Mueller, the team was composed of 13 girls from across New Hanover County. The team captured the district tournament to advance to the state tournament Aug. 1-2.
After playing pool games on Saturday, the Wilmington team was ranked as the number one seed for the single elimination tournament to be played on Sunday. The girls defeated Rutherford in a 10-run mercy rule after four innings to move onto the state finals.
Wilmington Fastpitch came to fruition in October 2014 after the four Optimists clubs in New Hanover County joined forces to help build an avenue for young softball players to develop skills and compete on an even playing field.
Fast-pitch softball has a long history in Southeast North Carolina. When the state allowed fast pitch in high school after the 1994 season, local teams made many trips to the finals. Laney took the 1994, 1997 and 1998 North Carolina High School Athletic Association State Championships, while New Hanover claimed the 2000 state title. Hoggard and Ashley have also both finished runners up in the state.
There are 12 members of the North Carolina High School Softball Hall of Fame and three of them are from Wilmington, including Buck and Judy O’Shields and Ashley Head Coach Chip Adams. The O’Shields played an instrumental part in getting fast pitch at the high school level.
Coaches: Scott Mueller, Kelly Curry, Amber Blank, Chad O’Shields, Ron Rigdon.
Roster: Payton Francis, Sawyer Rigdon, Katherine Kayler, Logan Fennel, Linde Cline, Bailey Mueller, Lauren Hall, Jayden Peterson, Chole Barnhill, Mia Akin, MaKenzi Curry, Ragan Martin, Layla Carr, Emily O’Shields.