By PATRICK CASEY
Five different age divisions traveled to the Forgotten Coast this past weekend as Dixie Youth softball took center stage as the 2011 Florida state tournament got underway on July 8 just east of Carrabelle.
Three teams from the area made the 150-mile drive to take part in the event at the Will S. Kendrick Sports Complex in a double-elimination format.
Ponce de Leon earned a trip from District 2 in the Debs Division (16-18) but struggled to compete as Spring Hill posted a 20-1 win in four innings on Friday before the Holmes County squad lost to host Franklin County 19-3 on Saturday.
The Paxton Angels (7-8 year-olds) took a 3-0 lead in their first at-bat against Wahneta but got tagged for 10 runs in the bottom of the first inning to fall behind by seven runs. The Paxton squad battled to within 10-6 and had the tying run at the plate in the top of the fifth inning but a pop-out ended the game and sent the Walton County squad into the loser’s bracket with an 11-8 loss. Franklin County ended Paxton’s run with a 5-2 win on Saturday.
The Paxton Ponytails (11-12 year-olds) had the most success despite dropping their opening game to Sneads 11-1. In that contest, the game was tied at 1-1 after three innings before a disastrous series of walks, wild pitches and errors allowed Sneads to plate seven runs in the top of the fourth inning for an 8-1 lead. Sneads added three more runs to take an 11-1 win over Paxton. The District 2 champion turned the tables on Saturday with a win over Franklin County to send the host team packing but Paxton could not win their second game of the day as they fell to Wahneta in the nightcap by an 11-8 score.
Sneads, who beat Paxton in the first round but lost in their second game, fought back through the loser’s bracket to qualify for the championship game against Spring Hill on July 11.
The Will S. Kendrick Sports Complex features five fields that stayed in constant action with five different age levels competing. Crowds were plentiful and spirited despite warm and humid temperatures that featured some rain delays due to inclement weather over the four days of the event.