Little League

Western Little League celebrates title

Life is good when you are not yet a teenager and people are calling you a role model.

That’s what members of the state-champion Western Little League All-Star 11- to 12-year old softball team heard Saturday as about 100 people came out to celebrate their title. The event also served as a pep rally for the upcoming Little League Softball Southeastern Region Tournament to be held in Warner Robins starting Wednesday.

If Western is the winner among the eight teams competing, they go to the Little League World Series in Portland, Ore.

“No matter what happens next week in Warner Robins, you are winners,” Western league president Keith Radcliff told the girls. “You are role models whether you want to be a role model or not.”

After listening to a few local leaders speak, the girls came off the stage and spoke with the crowd.

Kassidy Hulett, who pitches and plays second base, said the team has been enjoying the championship.

“It’s been the greatest experience I’ve ever had,” she said, adding that the team is looking forward to the tournament. “I just hope we don’t get nervous, but I know we can do it.”

Coach Mike Phillips said his biggest concern is preparing the girls for playing in front of a crowd that could be over 4,000 people.

“I think we are going to do great,” he said. “I’m just worried about keeping the girls down to earth and not getting too nervous, because that stadium is huge.”

He said he took two of the girls to the stadium Friday just to give them a look at it.

Tina Osborn, whose daughter Taylor plays third base and right field, said the girls have been anxious to get back on the field.

“They are ready to win Southeast,” she said. “They are ready to take it to Portland. They have all the confidence in the world.”

The team’s first game is Thursday at 7 p.m. against North Carolina. Other teams in the tournament are Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, West Virginia, Virginia and South Carolina.

Radcliff said the team’s success might be just want the community needs.

“With everything that’s going on in the news, Macon and Bibb County need something to be proud of,” Radcliff told the crowd. “It gives us a chance as a community to have something to be proud of, and maybe the community will start to get behind the youth and make this a better place.”

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.