A group of local softball players helped the EC Bullets Mayfield Gold to the Tennessee Sparkler National Championship earlier this month.
The winning team, ranked 11th in the nation, went 5-0 in bracket play after going a disappointing 3-3 in pool play. The roster features five players from Henry County — third baseman Jordynn Shirley on Woodland, pitcher Haley Moses of Ola, catcher Courtney Holcombe of Union Grove, infielder Tyler Ellison of Hampton and outfielder Jasmine Kimpson of Eagle’s Landing.
“National championships are very hard to come by,” EC Bullets head coach Todd Mayfield said. “To get a natty at this young age is just life changing for the girls. They can always say they won a national championship. It’s my first (national title in more than 20 years of coaching) and my assistant’s third. When you talk about the number of travel ball teams trying to win one and for them to finally get one, it’s special.”
The finish was thrilling, too.
The Bullets trailed by three runs entering the seventh inning, then scored four for a walk-off win.
“The championship game just showed their character,” Mayfield said. “After playing four games in a row, 10 (a.m.), 12, 2 and 4, and the last game was a seven-inning game. To be down by three runs in the last inning and to look me in the eye and say, ‘Coach, we’ve got this.’ To get four runs and win was pretty special.”
Kyye Ricks (Whitewater) led off the seventh with a single and Alora Bevily (Mill Creek) followed with a walk to get the rally started. McKaela Walker (Marietta) followed with a double off the center field wall, bringing home a run and putting runners on second and third base. With the bases loaded after an infield single by Jaden Gailey (Franklin County), Lottie Landmesser (Cherokee) doubled over the left fielder’s head and drove in two runs to tie the score.
Reese Hunter (Roswell) played the hero role with a walk-off single, sending her team into a frenzied celebration.
“It was great to see the excitement of the girls,” Mayfield said. “I don’t get too excited, but it was great to see their excitement and see their hard work pay off. If you play the game the right way and do the right things, it’s going to pay off and you’ll be successful.”
Other members of the championship team are Lael Ayala (Mill Creek), Laney McGee (Stephens County), Alana Scott (Helena, Ala.), Ja’nae Wray (Alexander), Olivia Cato (Northgate) and Peyton Kanaly (Lovett).