UNION COUNTY — The Union County 12u Ponytails Division Dixie Girls Softball Team are the undefeated State Champions and now they need your help to make their bid to become the undefeated World Champions.
On Wednesday, the Ponytails won the South Carolina State Championship Tournament in Bluffton, their victory capping a season that saw them undefeated having won all eight of the games they played, including the five played at the state tournament. Their triumph is made even more impressive by the fact that they did not have to play any of those games in their entirety.
“They are undefeated for the season,” Union County Dixie Girls Softball League Secretary Kristi Garner said Thursday. “They won all eight played and they never had to play a complete game, everyone of them were mercy ruled.”
The “Mercy Rule” is invoked when, in the course of a game, one team is leading another by at least 10 runs at the end of the fourth inning. When that happens, officials invoke the Mercy Rule and end the game.
The Ponytails won all five of their games at the State Tournament in just four innings, defeating Andrews 20-3, Kershaw 16-5, and Florence 11-1. They played Kershaw a second time and won that game 11-1, putting them in the final game of the state tournament where they faced and defeated Blythewood 11-0.
In that game, Ponytail Abby Benfield pitched a complete game no hitter to help lead the team to victory and the title after just four innings. The Ponytails scored early and often as they got on the board quickly in the top of the first inning when Ponytail Averie Lewis tripled in two runs.
The top of the fourth inning was the big inning for the Ponytails who scored five runs with singles by Ponytails Mackenzie Ford, Starr Young, Karlie Chapman, and Brianna Millwood, as well as a big double by Ponytail Janiyah Glenn. The Ponytails had 11 total hits in the contest.
In pitching the entire game, Benfield not only allowed no hits, but also struck out eight Blythewood batters and walked only one.
Their undefeated record and their overwhelming triumph in the state tournament is a testament to the level of talent possessed by each and every one of the Ponytails.
“All of these girls in their element are top players,” Garner said. “Most of the time you have one player who stands out, the MVP, but you cannot name, you cannot single out one player on this team as outstanding because they are all so good.”
As state champions, the Ponytails are now Team South Carolina and they will represent the Palmetto State in the Dixie Softball World Series that will be held in Alexandria, Louisiana, Friday, July 27-Thursday, Aug. 2.
They need your help to do that, however, because while competing in the World Series the Ponytails will need food and lodging and Garner said this, along with travel expenses, will cost $15,000, an amount that has to be raised between now and the team’s departure for Louisiana.
Garner said Friday that the team will hold a “Big Day of Champions” fundraiser on Saturday, July 21 at a location and time to be announced later. She said there will be a Chinese auction, food, and, plans are, a Home Run Derby at the event.
Persons who want to make a donation are asked to contact Kacie Gregory at 864-466-5735 or Marsha Gossett at 864-426-3456.
Eleven states will be competing in the Dixie World Softball Series and Garner said the team’s first game will be against Alabama.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090 or [email protected]
Tyler Shugart is the host of “Bump and Run” from 7-9 a.m. on Fox Sports 1400 AM 98.3 FM in Spartanburg. He can be reached at [email protected]