A pair of Lady Seahawk softball standouts helped propel a regional travel team to a World Series win last week in Panama City Beach.
Playing for Team Reaper, based in Marianna, junior Taylor Mallon and sophomore Sarah Ham were key components of the team’s 8-1 run at the United States Fastpitch Association’s World Series last weekend, culminating in the team winning the series’ 16-and-under title.
The series got underway July 19, as Team Reaper shut out Adidas Show Elite, from Georgia, 14-0 in their early morning game at the Panama City Beach Sports Complex.
In her first at-bat in the series, Ham blasted a two-run homer to left center. She would go on to a sizzling .500 batting average for the series at the plate, striking out just once. On the mound, Ham pitched a total of 11 innings, giving up just six runs, while striking out 11 and walking four.
Mallon had a batting average of .318 in the series, striking out just twice the entire tourney.
“They both made some great plays in the field for us,” said coach Lee Temples, who is assisted by Allen Ham, of Eastpoint, and Chivas Williams.
Later that Tuesday morning, Team Reaper downed BNGSA Glory 9-1, a team out of the Bloomington-Normal area in Illinois. In their third game that day, the team defeated the Cincy Flames, a team out of Cincinnati, Ohio 8-1.
On Wednesday evening, July 20, Team Reaper downed the Texas Bombers CTX in a close one, 5-4, and then in the nightcap shut out their chief nemesis, the South Alabama Lady Titans 2-0 in the quarterfinals.
In the semifinals Friday morning, July 22, Team Reaper won 10-3 over Thunderstruck, a team out of Indiana.
Later that morning, the team again downed the South Alabama Lady Titans 2-0, setting up a playoff final Saturday afternoon.
In that one, Team Reaper fell 5-2 to the Lady Titans for their first loss of the tourney.
Temples wrote of the loss on Facebook, and its ties to a 5-year-old girl named Callie who they met at a tourney a few months ago. She has a rare disorder that generates tumor growth along her nerve endings, which she has treated weekly with chemotherapy to shrink. Team Reaper has been wearing Play for Callie bracelets ever since.
“Every weekend we think about her and what she is going through, and it gives us strength to push through whatever is in our way,” wrote Temples.
Late in the game, Temples noticed he had left his bracelet in his truck, and the team sustained the loss. He managed to rush back and grab the bracelet before the final game against the Lady Titans.
“We came out hitting early and often and took game 2 convincingly by a score of 6-0,” wrote Temples. “As a big sports guy, I am totally superstitious like crazy, and I can say without a doubt little Callie was there with us in that dugout that last game pushing us forward to victory.
“When it was all said and done we won a World Series and Callie was unanimously voted by the girls to become a permanent member of Team Reaper forever. She will always be in our hearts and with us in spirit when she isn’t there in person,” he wrote.
Those who wish to donate to the Play for Callie effort can do so via Venmo at @coachcallie.