Atoka and South Tipton County will have a lot of representation later this month in Branson, Mo.
Three Atoka softball teams – 18-and-under, 14-and-under and 16-and-under – will be competing in the FASA World Series July 25-30.
Winning is definitely important to the players and coaches, but it’s also about having fun with friends, family and teammates.
“Having fun is part of the whole objective,” said Jay Scott, and 12U coach. “We want to give them an opportunity to socialize, bond and get out of their comfort zone. We want to let them be kids, enjoy themselves and become better people.”
“They’re like a family,” 18U coach Bruce McDivitt said of his players. “If one goes somewhere they all go.”
There’s a lot more going that week in Branson than just softball games. There are various skill competitions and a parade. Players also trade pins with their opponents from other states.
All three coaches and most of the players have plenty of postseason experience.
McDivitt coached the 18U team to a world series title last year. His team has won state three straight years.
As defending world series champs, the team qualified for the world series automatically, but chose to play in the state tournament.
“The girls wanted to keep their streak going,” McDivitt said.
Most of his players have played together for four years. Sue McDivitt and Hayleigh Ayers are three-time state champs and Chloe Tucker, Cali Dunn, Riley Patterson, Sarah Oakley and Lily Gunn have won state twice. All seven won the world series last year.
Scott’s team lost its first game at state two weeks ago before rallying to win the title and qualify for the world series. He coached a team to the world series last year and finished second.
The 14U team won its state tournament in dramatic fashion when Paisley Dorfman came up with a walk-off hit in the title game.
“They were really excited,” said coach Heather Winters.
Players, coaches and parents will be in Branson for a week and that can be expensive. McDivitt said it cost approximately $16,000 last year.
That’s where fundraising comes in. Anyone interested in donating can contact McDivitt (901-255-4535), Winters (901-515-6412) or Scott (901-230-7845).
The 12U team is hosting a bake sale/car wash July 16 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Atoka City Hall. The 14U team is planning on holding a fundraising dinner at The Cellar Restaurant in Covington.
All three coaches acknowledged the trip will be a blast. All three also said the plan is to win when they get there.
“Every time we step on the field the intention is to win the game,” Scott said. “As long as the girls put fourth maximum effort we’ll be happy with the outcome. I think we have a pretty decent chance if we play the way we can play.”