UNION COUNTY — On Saturday, the Union County Dixie Girls held their first-ever championship tournament, named this season’s All-Stars, and introduced an annual award.
The Union County Dixie Girls held a major event at Timken Sports Complex following the 2016 season, which board president Tim Garner called “a huge success.” Garner said player registration was up 12 percent over previous years, and the league implemented its first-ever player draft day, when players from the Union County High School Lady Jackets and Coach Tommy Petty ran multiple stations for players to participate. While working in the stations, Dixie Girls coaches evaluated players’ skill level and attitude.
“This paid off in a big way during the regular season, as we saw some of the most competitive games that we have ever seen in our leagues,” Garner said.
The first-ever SweeTees (ages 3-6) All-Star Game on Saturday. There were five teams in that league this season — 55 players, which were narrowed down to two 11-player teams. The game was played with new rules rather than those of the regular season. For example, runs were counted and outs were able to be made at each base.
“The girls only had two weeks to practice with these new rules, and they came to Timken Sports Complex full of heart,’ Garner said. “They showed everyone what they could do, and both teams played hard in a major way.”
Garner said the league saw that the SweeTees are not to be underestimated. He said the layout of the SweeTees division will change next year to make it as competitive as the girls can handle. Garner also said the league plans to send them to represent Union County in the South Carolina All-Stars Tournament next year. The “gold and black” team was coached by Tori Rochester, Jovonnie Glenn, Hailey Sherbert and Travis Smith. The “black and gold” team was coached by Ryan Queen, TJ Roberts, Alan Rector and Jennifer Burgess.
The 2016 SweeTees Gold and Black All-Stars — Ashton Sherbert, Madison Robison, Isabella Smith, Emily Green, Maleeyah Jeter, Addison Taylor, Saneah Byrd, Nevaeh Going, Zahara Hunter, Quenn’Nasia Johnson and Alana Johnson.
The 2016 SweeTees Black and Gold All-Stars — Bre Bre Saltor, Alayna Roberts, Alaina Rector, Khloie Vaughan, Gianna Fowler, Riley Tessner, Makayla Morton, Alyssa Coughlin, Chloe Steadman, Peyton Hyatt and Brianna Oliver.
Before Saturday’s championship tournament, the champions from each league determined by their records during the regular season were Union Kar Connection (Darlings), Union Pharmaceutical (Angels), Wicks Locksmith (Ponytails) and Timken (Debs and Belles).
Saturday’s tournament was held to determine the 2016 Championship Tournament winners.
The Darlings (ages 7-8) tournament winners were the Wood Forest Lil’ Divas. The Divas defeated Union Kar Connection in a close score of 17-16.
The Angels (ages 9-10) tournament winners were the Union Pharmaceutical team. Union Pharmaceutical defeated QPC in a close defensive battle in a final score of 1-0. During the game, QPC pitcher Precious Rice pitched her first no-hitter.
The PonyTails (ages 11-12) tournament winners were the Woodmen of the World Chapter 323 team. This was another close game ending in a final score of 5-4.
The Debs & Belles (ages 13-18) tournament winners were the Timken team. Timken defeated Letha King State Farm in a final score of 7-2.
The Dixie Girls league also introduced a new award on Saturday.
Coach Bennie Kershaw, Sr. was recognized for being the outstanding coach of the 2016 season. Kershaw has coached for more than 20 years, and he has never had a child of his own play on his team.
“He truly just loves being around the game and teaching our youth about softball,” Garner said. “Bennie is the epitome of what we look for in a coach and what everyone should strive to be as a person. He is a Godly man who respects every girl, not only on his team but in the entire league.”
Garner said the board decided to recognize Kershaw as an outstanding coach for the season, but members felt that wasn’t enough. The award he received was named “The Bennie Kershaw Sr. Coach Award,” and Garner said the award will be presented annually to a deserving coach, also recognizing Kershaw each year.
Following Saturday’s tournament, All-Stars for each division were named.
2016 Darlings All-Stars —Brianna Booker, Caroline Davis, Kalli O’Shields, Aliya Smith, Savannah Fowler, Gabby Eison, Gabby Castrejon, Mee Mee Geter, Amani Cosom, ZaMiya Harris, Lucy Hill and Carlie Rodgers. Alternates are Jaiya McKissick, Sarah Paige Glenn and Kennedi Booker. The coaches will be Kyle O’Shields, Rashad Cosom, Travis Harris and Michael Baldwin.
2016 Angels All-Stars — Laken Lewis, Precious Rice, Abby Benfield, Averie Lewis, Baleigh Fox, Nevaeh Mejia, Niyah Glenn, Peyton Grady, Kyleigh Woody, Destiny Lee, Lara Gory and Gracie Messer. Alternates are Zoie Cromer, Kara Pruitt and Nyla Smith. Coaches will be Marsha Gossett, Tiffany Grady-Hudgins, Bryant Glenn, Ric Parham and Tommy Benfield.
2016 PonyTails All-Stars — Amiah Rufrano, Nina Newton, Caroline Baron, Alizia Jeter, Shaniyia McBeth, Carlie Sumner, Kyla “2 Socks” Davis, Hayley Bobo, Katherine “Lil Bit” Martin, Valerie Belue, Bethany Hames and Joy Walton. Alternates are Tee Tee Boone Eison, Bonnie Steadman and Jamison Allison. Coaches will be Tori Ruth, Brian Bobo, Courtney Roberts and Nikki Young.
2016 Belles All-Stars — Chaniah Brown, Mya Feaster, Shydericka Jeter, Larissa Horne, KK “Pinky” Robinson, Jasmine Robinson, Ashanti Young, Molli Butler, Katie Davis, Morgan Peace, Zaria Smith and Destiny “Shy” Means. Alternates are Jelly Bean Farr, Taliyah Thomas and Kirah Stewart. Coaches will be Jerry Foster, Paige Foster, Bennie Kershaw and Chris Sanders.
Members of the Dixie Girls Board of Directors are Tim Garner (president), Michael “Third” Henderson (vice president), Donya Sumner (treasurer), Kristy Garner (secretary), Marsha Gossett, Alex Hulette, Courtney Roberts, Jenn Baron and Tori Rochester.
Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-762-4128.