ROCK HILL, S.C. -- None of the three Carroll teams entered in this past weekend's National Softball Association's Girls World Series camehome with a title.
But the county players did leave South Carolina with two things: the respect of opposing teams and stronger friendships with teammates.
The two Westminster teams, a 12-and-under squad coached by Jerry Georgiana and a 14-and-under team headed by John McLain, had the mostsuccess. Both finished 2-2 in the four-day event. The Hampstead Hammers, coached by Keith Woodburn, weren't as fortunate, ending 0-2 after a pair of shutouts.
Still, even before the second loss, Woodburnwas philosophical.
"The important thing for the girls is to enjoythemselves, not so much the wins and losses," he said.
For McLain, whose squad lost by 8-1 scores in its final games against teams from Sandy Plains, Fla., and Summerville, S.C., the lessons his team learned were important ones.
"After our last game, I got all the girls together to reflect on the good things that had happened to us," hesaid. "I told them they had done their best, and considering we had been together as a team only since April, we accomplished a lot. We won a state championship, we came into this tournament and played well, and we defeated a very tough team, Lake Lytal, in our second game."
For Georgiana, the pride was evident in his description of his squad's late-inning rally that fell short in a 13-9 loss against another Lake Lytal team.
"We made plays that we hadn't made all year. Wenever played as well together as we did," Georgiana said.
"We played great," he said. "We scored six runs in the bottom of the seventhinning. We just came up a little short. With the rain and all that we had Saturday, we were just a little flat in our final game, and I made two errors myself coaching."
Westminster 12-and-under lost itsfinal game, 9-2, to Plantation, Fla.
Both Westminster coaches hadto contend with a series of rain showers on Friday that forced the cancellation of all of Friday night's games, forcing both squads to return early Saturday morning for makeup contests. Georgiana thought that might have cost his team a victory.
"I think that we could havebeat Lake Lytal on Friday night," he said. "We always said we could beat anybody after 5:30 p.m. It was a letdown not to play that night."
All the coaches, though, noted that their teams had no reason tobe ashamed of their performances, and that the positives far outweighed the negatives.
"We played great defense, especially in our second win in the tournament," McLain said. "The girls worked together as a team."
Said Georgiana, "Even though we lost out in the tournament, the girls are more of a winner now than they were before the tournament. Whenever we lose, we have a tradition of giving the winning team a cheer. Before, I could tell if the girls were down because they would mope and not really put their hearts into the cheer. After our second loss, I didn't hear any of that. Our girls really felt proudof themselves, knowing that they were winners."
In the NSA World Series, only six teams captured championship trophies, while more than 195 teams went home empty-handed. But players for the Westminster Rockets 12-and-under squad, the Hampstead Hammers and Westminster's 14-and-under team left South Carolina with a special feeling.
They knew they had given their best and could ask for nothing more.