I spent most of my time this past week in Columbia covering the South Laurel 9-10 year-old All-Stars participating in the 9-10 year-old Fastpitch State Tournament.
Brent Jackson’s squad wasn’t able to bring a state title home to Laurel County, but they came pretty darn close.
South Laurel finished as state runners-up, losing 12-0 to Boyd County in the state title game this past Wednesday, but the 12-run loss doesn’t indicate just how even these two teams were.
Jackson’s squad was four outs away from beating Boyd County during the two teams’ second round matchup this past Sunday.
But Boyd County managed to steal home to tie the game and later won in extra innings after Jackson and Glenn Williams had to make a decision to stick with starter Kenzie Williams in the pitcher’s circle, which would result in her not being able to pitch the next game, or go with Bailey Kilburn.
They decided to go with Kilburn, who pitched great in a tough situation.
South Laurel wasn’t able to use Williams again during the state title game on Wednesday due to her pitching all eight innings of South Laurel’s 2-1 win over Russell County the day before.
Not having Williams' pitching hurt, but it didn’t keep Jackson, assistant coach Glenn Williams and the South Laurel players from believing they could win it all.
Yes, the deck was stacked against them, but I was impressed with the effort the players and coaches gave during the loss to Boyd County.
I’ve coached plenty softball games in all-star play and travel ball, and it was awesome to see how both Jackson and Williams coached their players throughout the game against Boyd County.
Even when the going got tough, neither coach quit or hung their head. They continued to be positive and they continued to coach — that’s what Little League is about.
The coaches’ positive, and never say quit attitude, rubbed off on the players. You would have never thought they lost the game.
When they were receiving their runner-up medals after the loss, the players and coaches were smiling from ear-to-ear.
They were proud of what they accomplished, and they should be, and I’m proud of them as well.
They handled themselves perfectly on the field. Always positive, and always cheering on their teammates.
So my hat’s off to you both Brent Jackson and Glenn Williams. Both of you are class acts and the true definition of what a good coach is, and should be.
To the young ladies that brought home a state runner-up finish, you had a heck of a run, and you sure did leave a lasting impression with this old sports writer.