ROCKINGHAM — Michael Way thinks he has the right blueprint to create a softball champion — pitching and defense.
He hopes the Rockingham 10U Dixie All-Stars can continue to execute his strategy in the Dixie Angels World Series beginning Saturday in Georgetown, S.C. This marks the first time a team from Rockingham has advanced to the Dixie World Series in any division since joining the league three years ago.
“We’re going there to win,” Michael Way said. “Pitching and defense translate anywhere. If we can score some runs, we can play with anybody.”
One of the pitchers Rockingham will look to lead the way is Greyson Way. In the state championship contest against West Brunswick, she struck out 15 in the team’s 3-2 victory. When needed Jenna Greene can step into circle for Rockingham as well.
“I think we’re a pretty good team,” Michael Way said. “I expect to run into some pretty good teams too. We are going to leave it all on the field, at the end of the game shake the other’s team hands and hope we were the better team that day.”
Because this is a first for a Rockingham Dixie softball team, the Rockingham coach expects his team will have to fight through some nerves in its opening game at 10 a.m. Saturday against Dentsville, the South Carolina champion.
“This experience is only going to help them,” Michael Way said. “They really don’t know what they’re going to be up against. Sometimes ignorance really is bliss.”
Another thing Michael Way is counting on besides pitching and defense is a bit of home-field advantage. Georgetown is approximately 130 miles from Rockingham, which he believes should allow a number of fans to make the trip to support the squad. Besides the host team from Andrews, S.C., Rockingham and Dentsville are the nearest competitors in the World Series.
“I have heard the mayor and members of the city council are planning to come down,” Michael Way said. “It’s close enough for grandmas, grandpas and members of the immediate family to come as well. Besides the South Carolina teams, I hope we have the biggest crowds there.”
If Rockingham wins its opening contest, it would return to the diamond at 2 p.m. Sunday against the winner of the Rayville, La.-Crewe/Burkeville, Va. game. A defeat would drop them into the loser’s bracket and a battle with either Wewahitchka, Fla. or Magee, Miss. at noon Sunday.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org