Gaining ground

Published 8:27 pm Wednesday, June 24, 2009

From three wins in five years to three wins without leaving the field, the North Chilton 12-and-under National Softball Association team has come a long way.

Those three consecutive wins came June 20 in an area tournament at Pelham and qualified a North Chilton team for a state tournament for the first time in at least eight years.

“The three wins without coming off the field, that’s the thing I’m most proud of,” coach Brian “Bucky” Jackson said.

And Jackson described the last game, an 8-7 decision over Helena, as a “battle of wills,” the kind of battle his team, the majority of which has been together for longer than five years now, wouldn’t have won in the past.

“We’ve preached to them since Day 1 that they belong there, but they expected to lose in the past,” Jackson said.

North Chilton will play Monroeville at 7 Thursday night in Millbrook, the site of the NSA state tournament, which will continue through Saturday.

If it is to have a chance in the tournament, Jackson said North Chilton must continue to rely on defense and a team-first attitude. And this might be the team’s last chance to do something special because some girls will become eligible to play school softball next season and the team will likely split up.

“There’s not a true superstar on the team, we preach that all 12 girls on the team have a role,” Jackson said.