Ferriday Dixie Belles prepare for World Series

Published 12:23 am Wednesday, July 30, 2008

FERRIDAY — The Ferriday Dixie Belles are preparing for the trip of a lifetime, and they don’t have to go very far to get there.

Thanks to their win in the Dixie Belles State Tournament last week, the Ferriday Belles — ages 13 to 15-year-old — will make the short trek to Alexandria, La., to participate in the Dixie Belles World Series against 11 other teams.

Ferriday came out of the losers bracket in the State tournament, and beat JPRD of New Orleans twice in a row to win the championship.

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“That was quite a feat,” Ferriday coach Rut Horne said. “They had beaten us 7-1 two nights before to put us in the losers bracket. But once we beat them in that first game, 2-1, there was a lot of doubt in their eyes.”

It will only be the second time that a Ferriday softball team has participated in the World Series.

In 2003, the Dixie Debs — ages 16 to 18-year-old — finished runner-up in the World Series.

“It’s a real treat for the girls,” Horne said about the World Series experience. “The Dixie program provides rooms and three meals a day for the duration of the tournament. They treat you well. That’s something the girls aren’t used to as far as travel goes.”

Horne hopes that the things that have carried his team this far — pitching and team speed — will continue in the World Series.

“I’m hoping that what we did to get us to this point will still hold true,” Horne said. Our team speed has carried us. We’ve got seven kids that hit from the left side that can run and that’s something nobody sees. We don’t have any tater tots on this team.”

Horne said he has been impressed with the way his pitching staff — particularly Heidi Thornton, Mary Sanders and Ellen Bairnsfather — has come along as the team has made it through the district and state tournaments.

Horne has used three pitchers in every game up to this point.

Heidi Thornton is the starter, Mary Sanders is used in middle relief and Ellen Bairnsfather is the closer.

“When I started All-Stars this year, the big question mark to me was the pitching,” Horne said. “They have continuously improved from the first game we played. The pitching in the last 30 days has taken a major step forward.”

Competing in the double-elimination tournament are the state champions from Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and the host team from Alexandria, La.

Ferriday, the Louisiana state champion, will play its first game at 10 a.m. Saturday against South Carolina.

The championship game of the tournament will be next Wednesday.

All of Ferriday’s World Series games will be broadcast on Kiss 97.3 FM with Porky Smith as the announcer.