Roxana pulls off another successful series

Another successful Senior League Softball World Series came and went this summer in Roxana.

“I thought it went pretty well,” Lower Sussex Little League President Bruce Layton said. “You always see things that you can improve, but overall it went well.”

Layton credited the success to local contributors and numerous volunteers.

“We’ve been fortunate to have so many local contributors, and it always helps to have same volunteers every year, because they know their job already,” he said. “I think we’re getting better.”

The only the thing that kept this year’s World Series from being a complete success was the absence of the team from the Philippines. For the third year in a row, the Philippines’ team failed to acquire visas in time to compete in this year’s World Series, leaving only nine teams to play for the championship.

Disappointed league officials are currently exploring options to ensure that every part of the world is represented next year. Layton mentioned that they might insist that both the first- and second-place Asia-Pacific teams go through the process of acquiring visas, as an insurance policy. That way, if the first-place team is unable to meet the deadline and the second-place team can, they would represent Asia-Pacific in next year’s World Series.

Latyon also mentioned that the World Series is in need of additional sponsors for next year’s games. The budget is roughly $190,000, including in-kind donations such as the housing provided by Carl M. Freeman Communities. Unfortunately for the games and the kids that benefit from the donation, Carl M. Freeman is downsizing their contribution for the future, and league officials need other sponsors to fill the void, according to Layton.

“Right now we need some more sponsors,” he said.

But other than next year’s uncertain budget status and an Asia-Pacific no-show, the strength of the series in Roxana is clear, as four teams played well enough in their respective regional tournaments to return and compete from the previous year.

USA South (Morristown, Tenn.), Canada (Windsor, Calif.), USA Central (South Bend, Ind.) and USA Southwest (San Antonio, Texas) each made return trips to the World Series games, but only two improved their previous standing.

USA Southwest defeated USA Central 8-0 in the championship, after playing each other last year in the third-place game. Last year, USA Southwest finished third, following a 4-2 win over USA Central. Both teams watched USA East defeat District III’s All-Stars 3-2 in a seventh-inning comeback win, and it proved to be a huge motivator.

District III, represented by Laurel this year, finished third with a 4-2 record. They outscored their opponents 31-9, including two shutout wins. District III failed to score any runs twice in the final two days leading up to their third-place game against USA West, though both were to the top two World Series finishers. District III defeated USA West 7-1 behind by homeruns by Stephanie Wheatley and Jenna Allen.

ESPN was present at the championship game, for what was the first of an eight-year agreement to televise the Senior League Softball World Series. The game will be shown in its entirety on ESPN2, on Aug. 27 at 2 p.m.