East Texas softball represented itself well as American Freedom - Pride based out of Omaha, Texas, competed in the USSSA National Championship 12 and under tournament July 27-30 at Lear Park in Longview.
The tournament kicked off on Wednesday evening with Opening Ceremonies in which the girls participated in the parade of teams as well as a gift and pin exchange with other players. Pool play began on Thursday morning with AF-Pride soundly winning 7-3 against Texas Glory Adkins - Vargas. They returned Thursday evening to play against USSSA Pride 04 winning 5-0 with pitcher Grace Pippin throwing a one-hitter.
Pool play continued on Friday morning against USSSA Pride-Sheeley in which AF-Pride came out on top 12-0. At the conclusion of Pool play, AF-Pride were seeded first going into bracket games having outscored their opponents 24-3.
Bracket games began Friday evening with AF-Pride facing Frozen Ropes Stars pulling out a 4-0 win with Presley Applegate throwing a no-hitter. Bracket continued Saturday morning with the team facing the Tulsa Eagles with American Freedom coming out on top 5-2. The team recorded their only defeat in the tournament in an ITB 9-3 loss against Impact Gold-Ruvio despite a strong pitching performance by Jacee Short.
AF-Pride then battled through the loser’s bracket on Sunday, playing 5 consecutive games, recording a 10-3 win over Full Throttle 05, followed by a 12-0 shutout of ET Bombers, and a 8-5 victory over Impact Gold-Ruvio to fight their way to the National Championship game against the undefeated USSSA Pride Sheeley Red from Cedar Hill, Texas. American Freedom then defeated the USSSA team 11-4 to force the “IF” game to determine the 12u National Champion.
The final game ended in a 6-3 win for America Freedom Pride, solidifying the East Texas team as 12u National Champions. AF-Pride ended the tournament with a 10-1 overall record outscoring their opponents 83-23 with solid hitting throughout the lineup as well as outstanding pitching from the entire pitching rotation.
At the conclusion of the tournament, two AF-Pride players received tournament Most Valuable Player recognition. Katie Hart was chosen as tournament defensive MVP and Hannah Rhea was chosen as overall tournament MVP.
Players on American Freedom Pride include MaKayla Jackson (Naples), Jayden Cox (Winnsboro), Alyssa Stansbury (Winnsboro), Lauren Simmons (Mineola), Jacee Short (Hughes Springs), Presley Applegate (Pittsburg), Katie Hart (Omaha), Makayla Alana (Lindale), Grace Pippin (Hughes Springs), Hannah Rhea (Mt. Pleasant) and Trinity Hawkins (Chandler). The team is coached by Bret Hart, Brian Applegate, Cody Rhea, and David Pippin.