PORTLAND, Ore. — The old Ray Charles hit “Georgia On My Mind” plays about once an hour on the background-music loop in the lobby of the hotel where the Warner Robins American softball team is staying. But it’s just coincidence.
The tune isn’t making the place feel much like home for some of the Warner Robins players.
Oh, sure, on the field, Warner Robins is humming along in the Little League Softball World Series. Sunday evening, Warner Robins improved to 3-0 in the tournament and clinched a No. 1 seed in the semifinal with a 10-0 win over Poland. Warner Robins play a yet-to-be-determined foe — most likely the Central team — at 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday in a game televised on ESPN2.
But back at the Shiloh Inn Hotel; things have been a little spooky. Some of the girls read on the Internet how some of the rooms are supposedly haunted.
“I’m terrified,” said Southeast outfielder Amber Coy, who sleeps with the covers over her head. “It says people here sometimes hear a female and a male talking, and then they go into the room, and no one’s there.”
One of her roomates, Peyton Stallworth, said, “I think it’s cool and weird and scary at the same time.”
“It’s a little freaky. We sleep with the TV on,” MC Tucker said, to which her mother Cathy added the other day, “We’re calling Ghostbusters.”
On Sunday, they dialed up softball busters — or perhaps a ghost from the season past, the 2009 campaign, the one that found them in the same semifinal showcase game, two wins short of Oregon gold.
Against the overmatched pitchers for the Europe team, Warner Robins had runs in all four innings of a mercy-rule-shortened game. All but one Warner Robins player reached base, all but two had a hit and nine scored.
A sparse crowd of 150 or so at Alpenrose Stadium was comprised of mostly Georgians. By the middle of the third inning, the Warner Robins fans were so laid back and comfortable with their team enjoying an eight-run cushion that some of them started singing along to the stadium PA’s blaring of Elvis crooning “All Shook Up.”
Warner Robins has outscored its opponents 154-22 through 14 tournament games after its third straight shutout in the World Series.
On Sunday, Warner Robins scored three runs in the first two innings and two in the third and fourth to seal the four-inning win.
Warner Robins’ Melissa Cox knocked in two runs in the first after Sierra Stella and Chelsea Whaley got it started with infield hits.
Whaley, who cracked a pair of hits and scored twice, said she’s glad her club gets to play on national TV.
“I’m excited for everybody to be able to watch us at home,” she said.
Whaley, her team’s No. 2 hitter who now has four hits in the series, said assistant coach Bobby Killebrew gave her a pep talk before the game.
“He said I needed to hit the ball like I did at state, district and region,” she said.
Warner Robins pitcher Haley Tierce surrendered just three hits, only one of which reached the outfield and faced just three over the four-inning minimum of 12 batters.
“The defense did really good,” Tierce said.
She said it was unusual facing the Polish-speaking Europeans.
“I’d never pitched to a team that spoke a different language,” Tierce said. “When they cheered, I didn’t know what they were saying. It was kind of different.”
After the leadoff hitter in the fourth socked a single to left and reached third with one out, Warner Robins catcher Peyton Stallworth — named for NFL quarterback Peyton Manning — sealed her team’s third World Series shutout with a clutch catch of a foul tip.
“At first I didn’t think I had it,” Stallworth said. “Then I leaned for it, and I got it.”
Now they move on to the TV round.
“That’s why you come,” Warner Robins manager Roger Stella said, “especially for the new girls who get to be on for the first time. Hopefully they people back home will be watching.”