FLORENCE, S.C. (WMBF) - For the first time ever, a softball team from Florence will represent the Southeast Region at the Senior League Softball World Series.
In their first season together, the team punched their ticket to Delaware to compete for the state’s first ever Softball World Series Championship and that journey started at Florence Freedom Park.
“They’re great kids, they’re great scholars in the classroom, they are all great athletes and they’ve really done a great job coming together as a team,” said Robert Gayle, head coach of the Florence softball team.
The team features players from South and West Florence, along with Wilson High School, turning rivals into teammates.
“It means a lot that I get to play with other schools, because we normally don’t get to do that,” said player Gracelyn Flowers.
The team practiced Thursday morning at the Florence Dugout, giving the players the opportunity to stay sharp and beat the recent heat wave.
“We’re going through and working on pitching drills, hitting at four or five different stations, they are throwing to each other, doing some grounding things just to stay sharp on their game,” said Gayle.
Players and coaches are very optimistic about representing the Southeast Region and their chance to compete at a high level, against the top softball teams in the world.
“I feel like softball has taken me places I’d otherwise never have gotten to go and to be able to travel and do something I love, it’s a really great experience,” said player Delaney Timmons.
Even for those injured, like Angelle Siders, who was the team’s leadoff hitter, it’s still exciting to cheer on her team
“Being able to just sit in the dugout and cheer on my team and anything good that happens I’m still part of the team and will do anything that I can,” said Siders.
Gayle said he never imagined the team would accomplish this much success in their first year together and has been working with most of these players since they were 10 years old.
One of those players is his daughter, Brandi Gayle, an outfielder, who will represent Team Southeast next week on the biggest stage of her young softball career.
Both know, getting the chance to spend this time together makes it even more special.
“It’s great to have someone that I love be around me all the time and supporting me,” said Brandi Gayle.
“Certainly, getting this chance to spend the time with my daughter is important to me and it’s ultimately why I do this,” said Gayle.
The team has received overwhelming support from the community and will look to make history. No matter the outcome, this journey is still something each player and coach will cherish forever.
“Spending time with her and these kids, who are such great kids, they have such a great competitive spirit, it’s tremendous and a memory I’ll never forget,” said Coach Gayle.
The team will start making its way to Delaware this weekend for their first game Monday evening against Team Canada at 6 p.m.
All the games will be broadcasted on ESPN Plus and the championship round on ESPN2.
Here is the pool play game schedule:
- Monday July 29 vs. Canada at 6 p.m.
- Tuesday July 30 vs. Central Region at 3 p.m.
- Tuesday July 30 vs. Europe-Africa Region at 5:30 p.m.
- Thursday August 1 vs. West Region at 3 p.m.