Local teams take the fields in area-wide District Tournaments

Image: Ty Evans and the Milford Lil’ Dogs defeat Whitney 12-1 — The IYAA is hosting the girls 8u district softball tournament. Teams from both Italy and Milford will be battling teams from Ennis, Ferris, Whitney and Kopperl.

Ty Evans and the Milford Lil’ Dogs defeat Whitney 12-1 — The IYAA is hosting the girls 8u district softball tournament. Teams from both Italy and Milford will be battling teams from Ennis, Ferris, Whitney and Kopperl. (Barry Byers)

10u Girls – Pink Panthers:
Ennis — Head coach Robin Wafer and her Pink Panther 10 & Under Girls softball team completed an amazing comeback in round one of their district tournament to remain in the winners bracket.

Monday night, down 23-12 with 2-outs in the bottom of the 7th inning, the Pink Panthers clawed and scratched their way to a 24-23 win over Ennis Kaboom.

“We had an awesome game tonight! I’m so proud of the girls for not giving up and having faith in themselves and each other,” said Coach Wafer.

The Pink Panthers still had gas left in the tank and rolled over the Ennis Lil’ Ladyhorns 18-6 in round two.

On Wednesday, the Pink Panthers lost to the Ennis Tigers in the first game, however, IPP broke the Tigers shutout record and loaded the bases several times. In their second game on Wednesday, IPP lost to the Ferris Lady Jackets, ending the Italy Pink Panther’s season.

After the games, players received medals from Ennis, playoff trophies and personalized game softballs from Coach Wafer and a panel who picked which players should receive game balls. By the end of the tournament, every Pink Panther had earned a game ball for contributing to the games in one way or another. Game balls were given for teamwork, hitting, hustling, fielding and sportsmanship.

Coach Wafer was proud of the class and determination displayed by her team and thanked her coaching staff for a job well done, “I love these girls, they’re awesome! I can’t wait until next year! Also, I really appreciate our coaches Randy Boyd, Billy Wafer and Allen Richards for all their hard work with the team. Special thanks, and lots of love, to our team mom, Tina Haight. Tina goes above and beyond to make sure the girls feel loved and encouraged.”

15u Girls – Lady Gladiators:
Head coached by Doug Nelson, Italy’s 15u Girls softball team won their first game of the district tournament 18-0. Italy’s ladies lost the second game 9-6 to Itasca. However, a Wednesday win would have qualified Nelson’s team for state but Maypearl ruined those plans with a victory over Italy, ending the 15u Lady Gladiators incredible season.

First baseman Sa’Kendra Norwood said afterwards, “I’m sad that we lost, but I would trade everything for another season with those 13 amazing girls.”

8u Girls – Lil’ Lady Gladiators:
Head coached by Lisa Mott, Italy’s 8u Lil’ Lady Gladiators softball team had their first game of the district tournament, which is being hosted by the IYAA, called due to lightning and heavy rain. Unfortunately, the 6th inning stoppage went down in the books as a 5-4 Italy loss to Kopperl.

Luckily, the Girls 8u district tournament is double elimination, therefore, the Lil’ Lady Gladiators were still in contention. Italy’s Lil’ Lady Gladiators returned to action on Thursday and won convincingly over the Ferris Diamonds 17-2.

With pop-ups dropping down and sticking in the mud, the Lil’ Lady Gladiators were firing mudballs from the plate and high-kneeing their way around the bases. Hannah Haight’s slide into home bogged down but she able to slap the plate before the tag. Haight finished with a homerun, a double and a single, just a triple short of the cycle.

Lacy Mott plastered two doubles and, before the game, Courtney Riddle ripped the nets in the batting cage thanks to her new set of glasses and then logged two singles during the game. Grace Payne was solid at second base and right fielder Kimberly Hooker did a great job backing up throws from first. In fact, Hooker collected an overthrow behind first base, chased down the runner and made the tag as the runner rounded second base, earning Italy Neotribune’s Play of the Day!

Italy’s Jashiryan Lacy swings the bat with the force of sledgehammer and playmaker Madison Galvan quietly puts points on the board. Alexus Dorety, third baseman Karley Nelson and catcher Sydney Lowenthal solidify Italy’s wall-like defense. Pick-up player McKenzie “Hollywood” Wallace from Hillsboro adds even more speed to Italy’s roster. Consistent hitting and defensive hustle gives Italy’s 8u girls a 1-1 record thus far in the tournament.

The IYAA hosted girls 8u district tournament games will be played at the Italy High School softball field the remainder of the week. “The Upchurch fields were heavily soaked during Tuesday’s showers and the surface layer is just thick mud. With rain still in the forecast, Italy ISD graciously allowed us to use their sports complex,” explained IYAA president Gary Wood.

8u Girls – Milford Lil’ Dogs:
Also unable to play due to the weather stoppage on Tuesday were Milford’s Lil’ Dogs head coached by Ty Evans. On Wednesday, however, the Lil’ Dogs sent a message to the rest of the girls 8u district tournament teams with a 12-1 win over Whitney.

Lead by pitcher Markia “Co Co” Houston who caught a pop-up at the mound and threw to her reliable first baseman Kieauna Hurtt for a double play, Milford’s Lil’ Dogs continued to make one big play after another.

Katera Birdow added a 3-run homerun and Italy’s Alex Jones hit both a single and a triple as well throwing two Whitney hitters out at first base from her second base position.

Catcher Abbey Evans did a nice job stopping pitches and kept teammates updated on how many outs the Milford defense had earned. All-in-all, it was a good games work for Coach Evan’s and the Lil’ Dogs.

Milford Lil’ Dogs Roster:
Team Sponsor:
Rams Mechanical
Head coach:
Ty Evans
Assistant coaches:
Marcus Houston, Michael Brown, Veronica Rankin

Number Player
1 Johnson
2 Gabby Castilleja
3 Alex Jones
4 Abbey Evans
6 Bree Brown
7 Markia Houston
8 Jace McIntyre
9 Montgomery
10 Jenaria Brooks
11 Katera Birdow
12 Kieauna Hurtt
13 Callie Poor
14 Gracie Whittington
16 Sarah Stamper

The IYAA wishes to thank the Italy ISD for allowing the girls 8u district tournament use of the facilities.

District Tournament Sponsors
Italy ISD
City of Italy
Monolithic Constructors
McDonald’s – Italy
Citizens National Bank – Italy
Janek Farms
J & J Custom Homes
Pizza Inn – Italy
C5 Hyles Car Wash
Ken & Sandra Norwood
Subway – Italy
Chill Zone
Paaco – Hillsboro
Cate Welding
Stephen & Lisa Mott
Ellis County Umpires
Wood Paint & Body
Michael & Jennifer Chambers
Italy Neotribune

IYAA Sports, “The winning tradition starts here.”