It would be suffice to say that even without the services in place of the Mooresville-area based participants, the North Carolina 12-and-under softball all-star team would have still captured the most recent Little League Softball Southeast Regional championship crown.
However, it’s precise to say that the same squad definitely did just that in impressive fashion to boot with the local products playing pivotal roles throughout.
The cast consisting of Mooresville’s Campbell Schaen, Cadence Lane, Avrelle Harrell and Lauren Vanderpool all contributed various and respective efforts during the North Carolina team’s undefeated 4-0 run through the double-elimination regional field serving to also merit yet another berth to the Little League Softball World Series for the Rowan County-based organization.
With the all-star team housed out of nearby Salisbury and featuring a Little League charter that incorporates the eastern portion of Iredell County within its coverage area, the foursome of Mooresville talent made their presence felt as the squad latched on to its fourth invite to attend the LLSWS competition in the last five years.
Rowan County, which snared the district and state title to merit an appearance in the Southeast Regional, extended its overall unbeaten record in all postseason play to surface as one of the total of 10 teams making it to this week’s World Series.
North Carolina will make its debut in the internationally-flavored affair later this week.
In getting there, the quartet of immediate based players each emerged as key participants helping make the accomplishment complete.
Starting in the pitching circle, Mooresville’s Schaen stood out practically from start to finish. The left-hander made a brilliant opening-game statement when logging in with a no-hitter in a 1-0 win over fellow-first game foe Virginia. Schaen, like her trio of area teammates also a product of the Mooresville Middle School softball program, failed to allow a run or a hit while striking out three. The only thing preventing her from posting a perfect game was the hitting of two Virginia batters.
In that same game, fellow area players also came through in the clutch. Vanderpool accounted for one of the winning team’s three hits and also scored the game’s only run. She factored a stolen base into the mix that allowed her to advance into scoring position.
In the second game of regional play, Schaen registered her second consecutive complete-game shutout, working all six innings of a 1-0 win over Florida. She allowed only two hits along the way.
Again, in a key showing, Mooresville players accounted for all the hits in the game by the winning entry. Harrell paired base knocks to garner team-high honors in that regard and also drove in the game’s only run, while Schaen aided her own cause with a base hit of her own as well.
In the third game matching at the time the only two teams unbeaten in regional play, N.C. held on to edge Tennessee, 5-4, in a game that required one additional inning to decide. Both teams ended the regulation six innings deadlocked in a 4-4 tie.
Schaen worked the first six innings, giving up her only runs of the regional in the process.
At the plate, Vanderpool was joined by running mate Lane in whacking a triple apiece while Schaen also aided the effort with a base hit and a run batted in.
Advancing into the title tilt opposite West Virginia, it was over almost before it began in favor of the North Carolina crew. The state rep erupted for seven runs – a total matching its entire output to that point in regional play – and used the early outburst to post the 9-1 win.
Schaen gloved her third win of the regionals by going the distance and allowing just the lone run on three this while striking out a regional single-high game best seven hitters.
At the plate, Vanderpool paired base knocks, while both Lane and Harrell chimed in with base hits each that also drove home a teammate apiece.
Buoyed by the regional run that served to improve the Rowan County club’s playoff record to the 10-0 mark, it merited the right to tote the Southeast Regional title to the Little League Softball World Series scheduled to take place throughout the week at its permanent home in Portland, Oregon.
North Carolina has been assigned position within Pool B and, as such, it is matched up against fellow member Louisiana, the Southwest Region winner, in opening-round play for both teams scheduled to take place on Wednesday.
The team is slated to take off for its destination Monday morning in order to arrive in time to participate in official grand opening ceremonies slated to be held Tuesday. All play associated with the Little League Softball World Series will be held at Portland’s Alpenrose Stadium.
Other teams comprising North Carolina’s pool included host Oregon, Canada and Italy, the latter the Europe/Africa Region winner. Pool A teams consist of East Regional winner Pennsylvania, West Regional champion Hawaii, Midwestern Regional winner Iowa, Latin American Regional champ Mexico and Asia/Pacific winner Philippines.
The ESPN family of networks will be providing live television coverage of every game played as well.
Among those from the immediate area sure to tune in are the ones also from Mooresville who were also members of the same organization’s entry that captured the coveted LLSWS championship crown in the late summer of 2015.