Okeechobee Darlings win state softball championship

OKEECHOBEE — Okeechobee won a state championship and finished as the runners-up in two other divisions at the Dixie Youth Florida State Softball Championships which ended Monday.

Okeechobee won the Darlings division, for girls ages 9-10, and finished as the runners-up in the Angels X and the Ponytails X divisions. The Belles team, girls ages 13-14, finished in third place.

The Okeechobee Darlings are headed to the World Series in Mississippi after capturing the Florida State Dixie Youth softball title Monday.

The Okeechobee Darlings are headed to the World Series in Mississippi after capturing the Florida State Dixie Youth softball title Monday.

The Okeechobee Darlings, coached by Preston Baker, move on to play in the Dixie Youth World Series that begins on July 23 in Petal, Miss.

The roster includes Tiyanai Anderson, Jayda Rochelle, Lason Baker, Preslynn Baker, Jenessa Arana, Lilly Larson, Carley Bartels, Jessie Krall, Merleraysia Billie, Alyssa Madrigal, Carli Avant, and Addison Smith. Assistant coaches included Malcolm Edenfeld, Ramona Baker and Danielle Larson.
Coach Baker said the title felt good and gave him an unreal feeling.

“It is still sinking in. I have no complaints about this tournament,” he said.

“My girls hit very well, they played a good defensive game and they ran the bases excellent.”

Baker took the girls to the field three to five times per week for the past three weeks to get them prepared. He said they were used to the heat because they practiced in the heat.

“I told the girls to go out there with their heads held high and do what you do.

We worked to sharpen our tools and today we put them to work,” he said.

He also thanked his coaches and the parents for their dedication and support to the team.

The trip to the championship began with a hard-fought 6-5 victory over Franklin County on Friday. Rochelle had two hits and a run scored, and Bartels scored the winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning on a walk off triple off the bat of Krall. Lason Baker had an RBI double and a run scored in the game.

Okeechobee defeated Lake Placid on Saturday in the second round, 17-3. Lake Placid scored all their runs in the first inning. Kaedinee Ruelas and Paige Person had RBI hits in the rally. Okeechobee responded with six runs in the first and never looked back. Roschelle, Lason Baker and Preslynn Baker all hit doubles and Arana hit a homerun during a five-run second. A triple by Anderson keyed a six-run rally in the third.

Okeechobee eliminated Wesley Chapel, 14-3, on Sunday to move into the championship game. Okeechobee scored five runs in the first and six runs in the fourth. Anderson and Lason Baker each scored two runs.

In the championship game Okeechobee rallied again from a 3-0 deficit to score five runs in the first, three runs in the second and two more in the fourth. Madrigal and Larson scored two runs apiece for Okeechobee in their 11-3 victory over Lake Placid.

The Okeechobee Angels X Division team made it to the championship game before they fell to Wesley Chapel on Monday, 10-0. The roster included Makayla Pena, Chelsea Johnson, Carlee Osceola, Lacy Prescott, Morgan Hancock, Hannah Frank, Mariah Courson, Mya Billie, Jasell Rueda, Jasmine Desai, Bree Kelly and Lexi Thomas.

Okeechobee lost twice to Wesley Chapel in the tournament as they lost Friday, 13-2. Wesley Chapel took advantage of three errors, two hits and four walks to score seven times in the first inning. Chelsea Johnson and Carlee Osceola scored runs for Okeechobee. Wesley Chapel defeated Brandon, 11-0, and Okeechobee defeated Brandon, 24-4, in the other games of the tournament. Pena, Johnson, Osceola and Frank each scored two runs in the victory over Brandon Sunday. Frank had a triple, Billie three runs and two hits, Thomas a triple and two runs scored, and Desai three runs scored for Okeechobee in the contest.

Liberty County defeated Frostproof, 15-1, to capture the Angels Traditional State Title. Liberty County defeated Belleview 10-1, Liberty County defeated Frostproof 12-2, and Frostproof defeated Belleview before Monday’s championship game.

Franklin County defeated Belleview, 10-6, on Monday to capture the Ponytails Traditional Division. Franklin County defeated Spring Hill, 6-5, in the first round, while Spring Hill pounded Freeport, 16-2. Franklin County defeated Frostproof, 14-2, in the second round and defeated Belleview, 9-0, in a second game on Saturday. Spring Hill defeated Freeport, 11-0, in a loser’s bracket game and then defeated Frostproof, 11-0, before they were bested by Belleview, 16-11, on Sunday.

Okeechobee finished third in the Belles Division for girls ages, 13-14. It was an exciting tournament for Okeechobee as they lost a tough game, 13-12, to West Pasco on Friday, but fought back Saturday as they won a pair of games, 22-7, over Belleview, and, 12-2, over West Pasco.

Against Belleview, Okeechobee scored in the first on an RBI single by Janessa Nunez and took a 2-1 lead on an RBI ground out by Mallorie Thomas.

Okeechobee increased the lead to 10-1 in the second thanks to a two-run single by Priscilla Rodriguez and a three-run double by Jaycee Jumper.

Coach Dallas Nunez said minus the heat the team did very well. He said they responded well with the first-game loss.

“That was a heart breaker to play three hours and lose. We handled the heat, they can do it at this age. The girls played a full game in 100-degree temperature and it does take a lot out of them,” he said.

Okeechobee fell to Paxton on Monday and Lake Placid made the championship game with a 3-1 victory over Paxton.

The Okeechobee Debs all-stars, ages 15-17, were eliminated in two games.

The Ponytails X play state title was captured by Wewahitchka. Okeechobee lost to Wewahitchka in the first round 15-12 on Friday. Faith Vest had two runs and a stolen base, Lauren Sills scored two runs and had a single, and Elle Thomas scored two runs for Okeechobee.

Okeechobee defeated Brandon 21-1 on Saturday thanks to an 11-run first inning rally. Adryuana Baker, Kiersten Nunez, Bridgette Curl and Thomas had two hits and two RBIs and Marissa Farmer had five RBI with a three-run triple in the Okeechobee victory.

Okeechobee defeated Wesley Chapel 9-2 to earn a trip to the championship game. Okeechobee scored five runs in the first as three batters drew walks, Curl hit a double and Madison Hargraves an RBI single. Hargraves added an RBI double in the fourth and Baker added an RBI single in the fifth.

Wewahitchka defeated Brandon in the second round 20-10 to earn a trip to the championship game.

Nunez and Vest had doubles, Hargraves a single and Sills an RBI single in a losing cause as Okeechobee lost to Wewahitchka Sunday, 4-3 in the championship. Wewahitchka scored the winning run on a ground out in the bottom of the sixth inning.

OCRA President Ramona Baker wanted to thank all of the volunteers who assisted to make the tournament a success. Those volunteers included Kelada Jones, Naomi Stevens, Karen Cotton, Heather Hancock, Brianna Kelly, Mike Sadler, Rosie Medrano, Kiley Sadler, Ramone Baker, Pherian Baker, Ivess Baker, Alyke Baker, Lanie Baker, Ashtin Harden-Sadler, Kim Allen, Jeff Brown, Connie Millette, Gavin Harden, Drayton Billie, Jeanne Billie, Billie Kessler, Yanet Carrillo, Tracy Sadler, Haisley Kessler, Nathan Allen and Courtney Oliver.

She also praised the Lake Placid Darlings team for their volunteer work in cleaning up the trash cans.

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