The future of softball in Aynor is looking bright.
Three Dixie youth teams out of the Aynor Area Athletic Association recently won state championships to advance to their respective World Series.
The Aynor Sweetees (ages 5-6) begin play Saturday in Bay St. Louis, Miss., the Aynor Angels (9-10) start competition Saturday in Atoka, Tenn., and the Aynor Ponytails (11-12) start their quest Aug. 2 in Ponchatoula, La.
“Everybody knows everyone. Everybody’s like family,” Aynor Ponytails coach Jody Nobles said of the teams and the city as a whole. “We’ve worked together with all of them. We’ve scrimmaged one another. We’ve done everything we could to get all three teams where they’re at.”
The Sweetees and Angels were participating in opening ceremonies Friday night, while the Ponytails were planning to head to Louisiana on Thursday.
Nobles has plenty of confidence in his team, which he said overcame the pressure of being the last of the three to win a state title.
“I think we can win this thing,” he said. “They have one heartbeat and these girls don’t quit. If they can keep that attitude, I think we can put ourselves in position to really do well down there.”
The Angels and Ponytails compete in the X-play division, which Nobles said is different from traditional softball because it encompasses rules more similar to baseball. The Sweetees play in a coach-pitch format.
The Angels will be in a 12-team bracket, while the Sweetees and Ponytails will be a pool of 10 squads looking to win a World Series title.
“It’s been a long journey to get to this point,” Nobles said. “It’s been a long road with blood, sweat and tears. They don’t seem to quit. The parents and fans have been behind them and they’ve played exceptionally well.”
Nobles believes the teams’ success indicates a strong future for softball at higher levels.
“I think this has got to be the first step or building block,” he said. “I see big things happening in the future. If these kids keep their heads on straight they can do big things when they get to Aynor High.”
Nobles said the teams have received plenty of support from the community, including funding for the trips. Anyone interested in donating to the teams can do so at http://supportaynorchamps.com.
“The little town has just pulled together and it’s been amazing,” Nobles said.
The Georgetown County Belles (ages 13-15) also qualified to represent the state in their World Series, which begins Aug. 2 in Ponchatoula.