The District Nine softball team, representing Cape Coral and Fort Myers, tournament run ended Sunday without a championship at the Senior League Softball World Series, but it was an unforgettable journey and an incredible experience.
Hard to ask for a better start to Saturday’s game than Melanie Moreno’s first-inning two-run homer. However, District Nine’s 2-0 lead didn’t last long.
Southwest cut the lead in half with a sacrifice fly. Then, Miah Corona slapped the ball to left field. The left fielder tries to throw out a runner headed for third base, but the throw goes wide. Seizing the opportunity, the runner rounds third base and sprints home, tying the game 2-2. The next batter ripped a triple giving Southwest a 3-2 lead.
It didn’t get any better for District Nine, losing to Southwest, 9-2. Since District Nine lost, all that remained was one last game to determine if they could win third place. District Nine will face Latin America for their chance to end the tournament with a win.
On Sunday, District Nine faced Latin America to see who finished in third place at the Senior League Softball World Series in Delaware. Both teams that were just short of the championship game, gave championship game-level performances, holding nothing back.
District Nine played their hearts out and left it all out on the field, unfortunately, they came up short losing to Latin America by a final score of 5-1. Despite the loss, these players representing Southwest Florida were grateful to have this opportunity.
“It was amazing it was something different,” said Taylor. “Because I never thought I would be playing here.”
“I didn’t expect to come this far,” said Gianni. “But we played hard.”
It was a pitcher’s duel in Delaware early on between District Nine and Latin America. Until the bases were loaded for Latin America and District Nine committed mistakes in the field. All of a sudden District Nine fell behind 3-0 to Latin America.
District Nine would not quit after coming so far! Putting their patience and softball IQ on display, District Nine opted to play small ball. A bunt from Megan Hall put District Nine on the scoreboard, giving the team some hope now only down 3-1.
But, Latin America added two insurance runs in the sixth inning stretching the lead to what would be the final score, 5-1. District Nine finished the softball tournament in fourth place.
“My sister she won in 2016, so I thought it would’ve been pretty cool to like also win in the family,” said Payton.
The fun didn’t stop for District Nine even though it didn’t end how they hoped.
“Last night we jumped in the pool with all the other teams with our uniforms on,” Taylor Stewart said. “After we just lost to Texas but everybody was fun after that.”
The players returning next year know the plan is to come back to Delaware next year and go even further.
Throughout the weekend some of Southwest Florida’s best young athletes were performing on the world stage.
Every moment on and off the field was unforgettable for any young athlete with professional aspirations. For District Nine playing in the Senior League Softball World Series was like stepping on a field of dreams.
Competing against the world on crisp clean fields tucked away in the farmlands of Lower Sussex County in Delaware.
“My seven-year-old self would always watch the Little League World Series as a kid,” Alexalys Torres said. “And I always dreamed to come out this far and play over here. Live the dream basically.”
“Some people don’t get to achieve it,” said Taylor Stewart. “I’m so grateful that I got here.”
“I haven’t done anything like this before,” Gianni Torres said.
“I just have to take it all in and appreciate it while I’m here,” Alana Hutchinson said.
While this team finished in fourth place, according to the players, it wasn’t just about the game. For District Nine, it was about interacting with their teammates and with players from all over the world.
“It wasn’t like we were outcasted from all the other people,” said McKenna Robbins. “We actually made friends with all of them.”
“We had almost every single meal together. Like we saw each other in the hallways,” said Alana Hutchinson. “Like we cheered each other on.”
“We might have beat the Philippines but after the game they were so excited,” Alexalys Torres said. “We were singing in the bus.”
And Jaelyn Riley learned that ‘kumusta’ means ‘hello’ in the Philippines.
But, even after the final out was made in District Nine’s last game, they had one more memory to make back at the hotel pool.
“We were all screaming Southeast first to jump in and we all jumped in in our uniforms,” said Payton Breadmore.
“I was still crying…one of the west girls from California said come on get in the pool,” said Alana Hutchinson.
“Of course, they started calling my name chanting my name and the coach from Central is like you know if you go we all have to go,” said Dan Mills. “So I was the first one in. The rest of the coaches followed.”
For the time being, the 15 players may have played their final game together, but there is no telling what could change down the road. What won’t change no matter how much time goes by, is these girls are teammates for life. Cheering each other on, never backing down, coming together, sacrificing, and loving every second of the journey.
“We’ve made bonds that completely will last forever and years and years and we’ll still be able to talk about this moment,” said Alexalys Torres.