Windermere Little League Softball Goes to World Series
Ten girls from Windermere have a chance next week to accomplish something no Central Florida softball team has ever done: Win the Little League Softball World Series.
The team has already progressed farther than any team in the history of Windermere Little League by winning the Florida State Championship and last week’s Southeast Regional in Georgia. Manager Wes Mathis said, “After winning the State Championship, our goal was to have fun and do our best. That’s still our goal for the World Series. But this is a very talented group of girls and I think we can win.”
Mathis, like all Little League coaches, managers, umpires, and board members, is a volunteer. He started coaching his daughter, Lauren, when she was seven. “I own a medical device sterilization company,” he said, “In that last six weeks I’ve spent more days on this than at work.”
The players and their families believe the effort is worth it. Tricia Fleming, mother of Amanda, said “It’s an awesome feeling to watch your daughter win. All our families and siblings are going to Portland.”
“It’s our Olympics,” said Cheryl Wheeler, mother of Maggie. “We’re playing teams from all over world.”
The team appeared confident and eager for their next challenge during their recent practice at Windermere Little League’s Bailey Park. They were focused on their drills, but took some time to laugh and cheer each other on. Most of the softball fields they play on have dirt infields. In Georgia and at the World Series the fields will have grass infields, so manager Mathis wanted to use Bailey Park’s grass fields to get his team ready.
Amanda Plassencia, the team’s second baseman, who batted .474 during the regional tournament, describes her type of play as “hard and aggressive.” She’s proud of what the team’s accomplished so far, and is “excited” to play in the World Series.
Maria Pagane, the other half of their double play combination, batted .438 during the regional. Asked how she felt about going to Portland, Maria said it was “cool, because we’re the only Windermere team that made it this far.”
Neither Amanda nor Maria had the highest batting average during the recent tournament. Lexie Blair batted .500. Lauren Mathis led the pitchers with a microscopic 0.63 ERA. The players, coaches, and their families are confident the team will rise to the challenge at the World Series. Manager Mathis put it in perspective. “The most important thing is we’ve shown the girls that hard work does pay off.”
The team will practice here in Central Florida in the next few days before leaving for Portland. On Monday they’re scheduled to practice at West Orange High School and get some tips from coach Bobby Brewer, who managed the Apopka Little League baseball team to the final game of the 2001 World Series.
The team members that will represent Windermere, Florida, and the Southeast Region next week at Portland are: Lexie Blair, Hannah Cain, Amanda Fleming, Bri Guldin, Lauren Mathis, Maria Pagane, Amanda Plassencia, Marissa Sidwell, Sara Steinman, and Maggie Wheless. The manager is Wes Mathis, and coaches are Mark Wheless and Tim Guldin. Their first game in Portland will be Friday, August 10 at 7:00 PM Pacific, 10:00 PM Eastern.