By Laurence Hilliard
Winston County Journal
A group of young softball players brought a championship back to Louisville by avenging their only loss of the season.
The Louisville All-Stars were beaten 4-1 by a team from Saltillo in the Dizzy Dean 10-and-under state tournament. But when the teams met again in the World Series earlier this month in Southaven, Louisville came out on top 4-1 and 4-0 to claim the championship.
“It definitely gave us a little more motivation,” Eric Whitehead, the team’s coach, said of the rematch.
The All-Stars were 14-1 for the season. They went 5-1 in the state tournament, then swept through the World Series with five straight wins, outscoring their opponents 41-2. There were 10 teams in the World Series, eight from Mississippi and two from Tennessee.
“There have been teams from Georgia, Alabama and other states in the past. But this year it was just the two states,” Whitehead said. “Last year, we were third in the state and fourth in the World Series. I knew we were a better team than that.”
The All-Stars defeated Harrison County, Tenn., 13-1, Southaven 11-0 and Olive Branch 9-0 before the two wins against Saltillo. “They did really well,” Whitehead said of his players. “They put the ball in play and hit the ball well. We didn’t have many errors.”
Anna Grace Whitehead, the coach’s daughter, was the tournament MVP. She was the winning pitcher in all five games, allowing three hits and striking out 65, with no-hitters in the first three games.
“I was hitting my spots,” she said. “I was doing well with my change up.”
Anna Grace was also one the team’s offensive leaders, along with sisters Natalee and Jillion Eaves and Jodie Wilkes. Anna Grace homered against Harrison County, doubled and tripled in the first Saltillo game and had a run-scoring triple in the game that clinched the championship.
Natalee homered against Harrison County and Southaven and had a single and triple in the Olive Branch game. Jodie had two doubles in the Harrison County game, two doubles and a single against Southaven and another double against Olive Branch. Jillion had a double against Harrison County.
In the championship game, the All-Stars took the lead on a run scoring single by Sakinya Glenn in the second, added a run in the fourth and two in the fifth. That was more than enough for Anna Grace, who allowed one hit and fanned 13. “I’m really competitive,” she said. “I like the competition.”
Players could not be over 10 as of January 1. Anna Grace, now 11, will compete in 12-and-under next year,