Brittney Lofthouse – Contributing Writer
Macon County youth league sports had distanced itself from the Little League organization a couple of years ago, but reworked the program just before the pandemic hit. In the first full year the league has been operating, both the 8U Softball Team and 8U Baseball teams earned a spot to compete against other athletes in North Carolina in the state tournament
“It is really exciting to see both of Macon County’s 8U little league teams, softball and baseball, heading to the State Tournament this weekend,” said Macon County Youth League Sports Director Nick Birchard. “We just revamped the Little League program last year, and because of COVID we were unfortunately not able to have a Spring season. So to see these kids come out here and put in the work to earn a trip to the State Tournament to represent Macon County is really exciting.”
Macon County competes in District 5. North Carolina Little League District 5 is an extension of Little League International and covers most of Western North Carolina. Currently District 5 is comprised of eight local leagues from Franklin to Henderson County.
The Macon County 8U All Star team for both baseball and softball are comprised of the top young athletes from around the county. Nominated to the team by coaches from every team after the regular season, the All Star team began practice in June, dedicating most of their summer to the sport.
The Franklin 8U All Star baseball team went undefeated in the District 5 Tournament, and was crowned District 5 machine pitch Champions after a 15-11 win over Henderson County. The baseball team will be competing in the State Championship in Wilson, N.C. Franklin is scheduled to take the field at 8 p.m. on Friday, July 9, against Rocky Mount in the Southern Bank Stadium. They will then face off against Wilson on Saturday, July 10, at 11 a.m. and East Chatham at 1 p.m. The winner of the pool in which Franklin is competing and any team with a 2-1 record, will then advance to the state finals single elimination portion of the tournament.
The Franklin 8U All Star softball team was defeated 31 to 20 by Hominy valley in the District tournament, however the team still earned a spot at the North Carolina State Tournament of Champions on Lake Normal as the District 5 runner up on July 10.
Both teams received an outpouring of community support to raise funding to compete on the state level. Fundraisers held by both the softball team and baseball team combined with donations from the community raised enough funding to fully cover the travel expenses for the teams.