PORTLAND, Ore. — The first day at the Little League Softball World Series is for getting all the kinks out and the little things done.
So that’s what the Warner Robins Little League’s Southeast Regional champions did Tuesday and Wednesday.
They flew from Hartsfield Airport through Phoenix to Portland, got their uniforms — bright orange jerseys, black shorts — got their pictures taken umpteen times, got the team spread out to the three host families who will house them this week and went through the pageantry of the opening ceremonies at Alpenrose Stadium.
The Southeast champs got a good night’s sleep — no surprise, since they flew across three time zones and even managed a half-hour of situation practice.
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This morning they will have a real practice and finally get to tee it up in their opening game.
That will be at 8 p.m. against the West champions from Anchorage, Alaska.
It’s about time, said Warner Robins pitcher-infielder Sydney Barker.
“We’re just really excited to be here,” she said, “and we’re ready to play.”
On Wednesday morning, the Georgians were still dealing with the excitement of what was, for many of them, their first plane ride.
“I was pretty scared,” infielder Kelly Warner said, “until the plane actually took off. Then it was fun.”
There was a lot of yawning at the brief morning workout on an artificial surface at nearby Reike Elementary School.
Manager Emily Whaley was not terribly worried about it all.
“They’re still kind of dragging a little bit,” she said. “We plan on having a longer practice (today). I’d like to have three hours to get some stuff done.”
The game-day practices are part of Warner Robins’ regular routine. The players practiced, then played, throughout the five-game regional in Ceredo-Kenova, W.V.
The team is the tournament’s Pool B, which includes the West champions from Anchorage, the Central winners from Croswell, Mich., the Asia-Pacific champions from Guam and the European victors from Milan, Italy.
The teams will play a round-robin schedule with all four teams. If they finish in the top two there, they’ll move on to Tuesday’s semifinals. The championship game will be Wednesday.
Whaley doesn’t know a darn thing about Alaska – “I think it just adds to the worry” – and, as usual, doesn’t know who she will send out to pitch the opener.
Five of the 12 players on the Warner Robins roster have pitched, but the most heavily used pitchers in West Virginia were Sydney Barker, Kaylee Albritton and left-hander Avery Lamb. Albritton threw an eight-inning shutout of Florida in the regionals, and Barker started the championship game against the same team.
“Typically, the way we’ve done it,” Whaley said, “is to get them out there throwing. We ask them how they feel and what’s working and what’s not working.
“We look at them, then we make up our minds.”
Warner Robins will take a day off Friday, then resume pool play Saturday through Monday. It will face Central at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Europe at 3:30 p.m. Sundayand Asia-Pacific at 5 p.m. Monday.