Talk about coming a long way in a short time.
When the Granbury S.W.A.T girls played their first softball tournament of 2014, the team managed three hits in a pair of losses.
Next week they will be playing in the PONY (Protect Our Nation’s Youth) 14-Under Softball World Series in Lubbock. The double-elimination tournament starts Monday and runs next Saturday (July 19).
“They went from three hits in the first tournament to 50 runs in regionals – what a turnaround,” said Bubba Horton, one of the team’s three coaches, along with Alan Hickey and Mike Pallet.
“They put in the effort and did the work to consistently get better, it’s that simple.
“And the teams we were beating, a lot of people felt we shouldn’t even be playing with them, but we were – and we were winning.”
S.W.A.T qualified for the World Series by finishing second in the PONY South Region Tournament in Burleson June 28-29.
S.W.A.T is an all-star team comprised of players from different recreation teams in the Granbury Athletic Association. Many other all-star teams are really select teams with players who compete together throughout the season.
S.W.A.T consists of Ellie Feemster, Lani Hickey, Lark Horton, Blaine Dixon, Madi Yarbrough, Hannah Pallett, Everley Carey, Kelby Been, Tatum Davis, Ashleigh Wilson, Rachel McWilliams and Naomi Palafox.
S.W.A.T stands for Softball With Attitude. The logo is a Lady Pirate hitting a softball with a sword.
That attitude has led S.W.A.T to the World Series despite beginning the season 2-4. They’ve won seven of their past nine to stand 9-6 as they head to Lubbock.
“Each time they played they seemed overmatched, but we just wanted to see improvement for when they get to high school,” said Horton.
“Of course, you always want to reach this level and get to the World Series, but our first goal was to have them ready for high school.”
In their second tournament, S.W.A.T went 2-2. They started the third tournament with back-to-back wins before the rest of the tourney was rained out.
“We became fan favorites because we were a pure rec team instead of select all-stars,” said Horton.
“PONY administrators have made comments about how fun we are to watch. We’d get in a 6-0 deficit and come back to win.”
Horton was referring to an elimination game at regionals against the Cleburne Poxic. Indeed, S.W.A.T trailed 6-0 after the first inning to a team that had defeated them earlier in the season, but they roared back to stay alive.
In that same tournament, the opener, S.W.A.T trailed the Burleson Lady Dragons 5-0 early before coming back to win 9-8 in extra innings.
Their second game was a 4-1 loss to the eventual regional champions, the Hurst Swarm. That game was tied 1-1 until the final inning.
In the losers bracket, S.W.A.T defeated Blue Fusion out of Fort Worth, 11-1, before topping Cleburne. An 8-1 win over the Saginaw Angels set up a rematch with Hurst.
With the tournament being double-elimination, S.W.A.T needed to beat Hurst twice for the title. They won the first contest, 6-3, overcoming a 3-1 deficit early, naturally.
In the winner-take-all showdown, Swarm led 3-1 until the top of the final inning. S.W.A.T scored four runs for a 5-3 lead, but Hurst came back with three in the bottom for a 6-5 win.
“These girls have gone from struggling to get a hit to being one of the best teams in the state,” said Horton. “Just go win the game, that’s their attitude. We preach that even if somebody is not playing, there is always a role for them.
“And they should always be prepared for their moment.”
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