08/13/11 — Carolina Lookouts - World Series champs

View Archive

Carolina Lookouts - World Series champs

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on August 13, 2011 11:38 PM

A group of 12 girls proved over a 12-month period that their love for softball goes much deeper than a glove, a bat or a bright yellow ball.

Their success on the diamond derived from dedication and commitment.

And they earned a much-deserved prize just eight days ago in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The Carolina Lookouts 12-Under team rallied from a four-run deficit and defeated the Ohio Stingrays, 9-7, to win the 2011 World Fastpitch Connection "Class A" World Series championship.

"It was truly a team win," said Lookouts head coach Steve Walton. "Every player on the team contributed to our success. Our pitching was phenomenal. Our bats were hot all week and our defense played seamlessly.

"Every one of our girls played excellent."

The Lookouts' championship journey started in August of 2010.

Walton and his fellow coaches, Mike Morgan and Mike Hearp, unveiled a plan that included just one team goal -- work hard to be our best, advance to the World Series in 2010 and win. Blending life's lessons into their practices and games, the coaches stressed the importance of staying focused and working diligently to achieve their goals.

The team followed a "must-do" list each day:

* Work hard to be your best;

* Love and support your teammates;

* Respect others;

* Earn the respect of others;

* Remind each other of our goals;

* Have fun and enjoy ourselves along the way;

* and practice our WSWP -- World Series Winning Pose.

Carolina started tournament play last fall and earned either first-, second- or third-place finishes in those events.

"We never stopped all winter," said Walton. "We had team practices indoors, had a conditioning program the girls followed at home; and our pitchers and catchers got together at pitching lessons to stay sharp and enhance their skills."

Tournament play heated up again in March, and the Lookouts participated solely among 12U teams. As the World Series got closer, Walton entered the squad into 14U tournaments to face older and more-skilled teams that played at a faster level.

Carolina placed fourth in one tournament, third in another and won first place in their final tune-up before the USFA State Tournament in June. More than 40 teams were stretched also three classes -- A, B and C -- during the double-elimination event, and Walton's blueprint for success paid off.

The Lookouts emerged state champions.

"(It was) a major accomplishment among some fierce competition," said Walton.

Competing in WFC tournaments and a stout record helped the Lookouts get placed in the advanced "A" bracket for the World Series. Carolina opened play with a 9-2 rout of the Stingrays, and outscored their remaining opponents 31-7 over the next few days.

Walton had a gut feeling his team would see Ohio again.

He was right.

The Stingrays battled through the consolation bracket to set up a rematch against the Lookouts, who had yet to experience defeat.

"They (Stingrays) were not ready to go home," said Walton.

Ohio prevailed and set up an "if" game to determine the World Series 12U queen. The Stingrays grabbed a 5-1 lead in game two and the Lookouts, without their coaches, called a quick team meeting inside the pitcher's circle.

They quickly reminded each other of the "must-do" list.

Each player trotted back to their respective position. The team survived the early offensive uprising and eventually rallied for a 6-5 lead. Carolina outscored Ohio 3-2 the rest of the way, and accomplished their lone year-long task in thrilling fashion.

"(That) shows how much these girls have grown as a group and how they have begun to take on leadership roles," said Walton. "These girls (proved they) are not individuals on the field, they are one unit. Every girl on the team shared many shining moments."

And shared that long-awaited WSWP, too.

Editor's note: Walton said the Carolina Lookouts wished to thank their many friends and business owners who supported the team throughout the season, and contributed to their fundraising.