By Randy Arrington
SHENANDOAH, July 16 — After outscoring opponents 37-2 through three games in the state tournament they hosted last week, the Shenandoah Recreation League‘s 8U All-Star softball team is headed to Jensen Beach, Florida for the Babe Ruth World Series July 27 through Aug. 4.
“They’re very excited,” head coach Brennan Comer said on Friday.
Shenandoah’s 8U girls defeated Churchville 15-1 last Thursday before allowing only one run in two games against Rockville, winning 10-0 on Saturday and 12-1 on Sunday in the state championship. Macie Moubray was named the 2021 Virginia Babe Ruth 8U tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
“They’re a very good little group,” Manager Brennan Comer said on Friday. “Their defense is very strong, and they play together very well.”
Comer says the group has been playing together since they were six years old, including travel ball that keeps them on the field nine to 10 months out of the year.
“They’re a hard-working group of girls,” Coach Comer said. “They put a lot of time and effort into this and are very deserving of this opportunity. They have a lot of potential.”
Comer’s squad marks the first 8U softball team in the Shenandoah Rec League to reach the World Series, although the local league has sent four state champions in various age groups to Florida in the last six years. In 2017, Shenandoah sent two teams to the World Series.
However, only one World Series title has been brought back home to Shenandoah — the 12U softball All-Stars won the Series in 2016 with the likes of Maddie Gordon, Kirsten Hensley, Taylor Umberger and Tana Merica. All four played varsity softball for Page County High School, with three of the four earning postseason honors this spring. Gordon earned a softball scholarship to play for Division I Penn State next season.
“Our program has definitely fed into the high school program,” League Vice President and 8U assistant coach Julie Comer said on Friday. “When the high school won the state in baseball and softball [in 2018], a lot of those kids had been in [Rec League] All-Stars. These younger girls see the older ones winning state championships and now they have that drive for it.”
It’s a 14-hour drive to Jensen Beach, Florida, where the Babe Ruth World Series games have been held for the last decade. Once Shenandoah’s 8U softball team hits the field on July 27, they will play about four games in “pool play.” After those initial games, teams will be divided into two brackets — the World Series bracket, and the Diamond bracket. Teams in the Diamond bracket are not eligible for the World Series title, as it serves as a consolation bracket.
In addition to the World Series itself, the Shenandoah 8U softball team will don different uniforms and represent the good ‘ole U.S.A. against international teams at the tournament in what are called “Salute to Service” games, where members of the military are honored. Softball is still new to many international teams, so they don’t fare quite as well as those commonly seen in the final stages of the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Penn.
In order to make their 2021 dream a reality, the Shenandoah 8U softball team needs the community’s help. The trip is estimated to cost about $25,000 between fees, special uniforms for the international games, and booking a dozen or more rooms for a week in Florida. In two days, they raised about half of that amount.
“These girls are living a true American dream! We want to make sure this dream continues and that every single one of these players, coaches and families continues this dream as we travel to Florida,” reads a fundraising letter sent out by the Shenandoah Rec League. “We are raising money to help with the cost of getting our girls to Florida to
play in the World Series softball tournament. They will be staying for several days, having to purchase hotel rooms, all meals, tournament fees, and travel to get down there and back. As you can imagine, it takes a substantial amount of funds to send our girls to the world series.”
The following fundraisers are being planned to support the trip:
• Friday, July 16 — From 3 to 7 p.m., players and coaches will be collecting donations along Route 340 through the Town of Shenandoah; in addition, team supporters will be at the 7-11 near the entrance to the Massanutten Four-Season Resort on Route 33 from 3 to 7 p.m. offering a bake sale and collecting donations.
• Saturday, July 17 — Team members will be offering a car wash and bake sale beginning at 8 a.m. at the 7-11 at the stoplight in Shenandoah; the team will also be selling a hot dog, chips and a drink for $5 and accepting all donations at Ace Hardware in Elkton from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Then Saturday evening, the team will be selling snow cones and 50-50 raffle tickets at the Shenandoah Speedway. Gates open at 5 p.m., with the race at 6 p.m.
A percentage of profits brought in by Star Valley Candles and Diane Buckley, a consultant for Thirty-One Gifts, over the next week will be shared with the All-Stars. Other local businesses are encouraged to do the same.
Donations may be made via Venmo to @ShenandoahRecLeague. Checks may be made payable to Shenandoah Recreation League, and sent to: c/o Regina Hilliard, Shenandoah Rec League, 512 Hughes Lane, Shenandoah, VA 22849. Raffles are alos taking place on the Shenandoah Rec League Facebook page.
Donations need to be collected by Friday, July 23.
The Shenandoah Recreation League’s Federal Tax ID number is 54-1610909. The Shenandoah Recreation League is a non-profit organization, and any contribution you make will be tax-deductible.