Neither of the two local teams involved in the Dixie Girls Softball World Series last week and early this week in Atoka were able to win a title.
But one thing is for sure: The players, coaches and fans made some lifelong memories.
“This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” said Matt Meadors, who coached the Atoka Debs in the 17-18-year-old age group. “They will remember this all their lives.”
Twenty four teams from around the southeastern United States competed in two age groups: Angels (9-10) and Debs.
Atoka Dixie Girls president Hayden Harrison estimated that 2,500 to 3,000 people came through the games Saturday and Sunday to watch 32 games. As teams were eliminated the crowd naturally became smaller, but Harrison said he couldn't have asked for a better tournament.
“I think it went great,” Harrison said. “We were blessed with perfect weather and no rain. I talked to a guy from Louisiana who had been to other world series and he said this was the best one he ever attended.”
The Debs lost to a strong Alabama team in the tournament opener on Saturday before bouncing back for a 9-1 win over Florida on Sunday. Mississippi eliminated the Debs Sunday night.
“I was very, very proud of the girls,” Meadors said. “I think they did outstanding against some serious competition. I really want to thank Atoka and Dixie Youth. They put on a great show.”
The Atoka Angels defeated Virginia 11-0 in their tournament opener Saturday afternoon.
After a 9-0 loss to Texas Sunday morning, Mississippi ended the Angels' run with a 3-1 win in extra innings Sunday night.
Angels head coach Bobby Billings took his team to three tournaments before the world series and they won them all.
He said he hopes to keep his group together next year and make another postseason run.
“We're going to try and give it another run next year,” Billings said.
It was the first time Billings had coached in a world series and it was the first time his players had competed in one.
“That Sunday, there were so many people in the crowd, I think that put some pressure on our players,” Billings said. “There were at least 200 people in the crowd. None of those kids had been in a game with that many people watching.”