Community shows support for Bibb’s Western Little League

WARNER ROBINS -- The Western Little League team ate lunch at a McDonald’s in Warner Robins, just south from where they live in Macon, but after checking into their team hotel, it felt much further away than a short jaunt down Interstate 75.

Penny Powell, whose daughter is shortstop Madison Powell, said she overheard one of the girls tell another, “It doesn’t even feel like we are in Warner Robins.”

The Bibb County team, which will represent Georgia, hails just 22 miles from the site of the Little League Softball Southeastern Regional Tournament, which starts Thursday.

As a show of support, several businesses in Macon and Warner Robins are making donations to the team, Powell said.

Riverside Ford has donated a 15-passenger van for the girls to travel back and forth from their Warner Robins hotel to the fields.

“Our dealership is very community-oriented,” said David Hill, a sales associate at the dealership who coached at Western Little League several years ago.

Hill said there is something special about children from Middle Georgia with the previous success of teams from Warner Robins American Little League and now Western Little League.

“It speaks volumes about our kids and their athletic ability,” he said.

Previous rivals have become supporters as many of the players from the WRALL team that Western beat in the District 5 tournament have become Facebook friends with the Western girls, said Powell.

Georgia Fastpitch Academy, owned by Rikk Pearson, donated the use of his Macon facility.

Pearson has known some of the girls on the team for four years and has given lessons on fastpitch softball for 18 years.

Pitcher Holly Phillips has been at the facility practicing nearly every day for the past two weeks.

Pearson plans on attending Friday’s 10 a.m. game against Florida, whom he considers, along with North Carolina, to be Georgia’s biggest competition.

“I think if they get past this weekend, they’re on their way to Oregon,” he said.