Softball girls throw first pitches in tournament

awoolen@macon.comJune 11, 2014 

WARNER ROBINS -- Coaches had just two weeks to prepare for the tournament.

Two weeks in which to teach their team of 7-8 year old girls how to pitch underhand for the inaugural Rookie Ball Softball Tournament.

Held at Warner Robins American Little League, two teams from District 5 learned the ropes to vie for a chance at moving on to the next level.

During the regular season, the girls were on coach-pitch teams.

“It’s been a challenge,” said manager Dusty Fransioli about getting his girls ready to pitch.

Fransioli enlisted the help of Chandler Ball, a Warner Robins High School graduate and pitcher for Liberty University, to help his players learn how to pitch.

“We wanted to make sure the mechanics are correct,” Fransioli said.

Several districts had been doing similar tournaments but last year was the first statewide tournament for baseball. The interest for softball quickly followed, said Roman Jones, district administrator.

“Once we have our state tournament, more will start following,” he said.

Currently, in both softball and baseball, Jones estimates there are three districts with 12 leagues that are participating.

Last year, the Warner Robins American boys took home the top prize and got a chance to compete at the Little League Southeastern complex fields.

The rookie baseball tournament, in its second year, added Dudley Little League from Dublin to its numbers of competing teams.

Al Gray, manager for Western Little League of Macon, said it was a chance for his team to represent the league.

Though the team had a “rough week and a half” of practices to get ready, the work paid off in a big way with Western earning the first District 5 championship for the kid pitch tournament.

Despite lightning and rain delays both games, the Western team beat WRALL twice, 13-10 Thursday and 19-7 Friday, for a spot in the sectionals that start June 12.

“They are doing well,” Gray said.

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