(Cover photo: Louisville Cyclones ’01. Cover and story photos provided by Bill Young)
Ten young ladies from the Louisville area defeated Carroll County of west Georgia to bring home the USSSA’s 14B National Championship Southeast title from Fort Walton Beach, Florida this past weekend. The Louisville Cyclones ’01 went an undefeated 8-0 in the double elimination tournament to defeat the Crush in the championship game, 2-1.
“It was an amazing accomplishment to travel to Florida amongst 43 teams across the country,” said Cyclones assistant coach Bill Young, “to go undefeated and play the way they did to win the championship.”
Their roster is comprised of: four girls from Assumption (Braxton Downs, Maggie Metzger, Lillie Bennett, and Young’s daughter Sydney); one from Eastern (Molly Probus); one from Male (Kelsie Houchens); one from Central Hardin (Onnica Nichols); one from Shelby County (Lauren Heckel); one from Jeffersonville High in Indiana (Cass Bott); and the last from Silver Creek High in Sellersburg, Indiana (Mazden Ragland).
Eight of the ten will be sophomores this year; the other two freshmen.
Alongside Young, the Cyclones are coached by John Gorges (head coach) and Scott Nichols (assistant coach). The “’01” in the team title represents the year all 10 of the girls were born – 2001.
Although there is a national championship for each division (i.e. 14A and 14B, 16A and 16B), there is no prominent difference in competition level, in Young’s opinion. The national title is a national title. And in fact, the Cyclones’s 14B division had over twice as many teams competing than 14A; teams traveled from Oklahoma, Illinois, and more. The Cyclones had previously won the USSSA state tournament in Indiana to advance to nationals.
The championship game against Carroll County was held at the Preston Hood Sports Complex. Young discussed the Crush’s amazing defense that gave his Cyclones a run for their money.
“As their coach put it,” said Young, “he saw a number of ESPN Top 10 highlights from them. And I would have to second that.”
But it was the Cyclones’ combination of pitching and defense that secured the win.
“For the season, our hitting is about .375, but our biggest asset is our pitching,” added Young.
Rising Male freshman Houchens pitched the game. She also brought home the Outstanding Pitcher Award and the tournament MVP.
Young also talked about the unselfishness of his players being a key to success.
“Our strengths is that there is no ‘I’ on our team. They all work together as a team.. They trust each other to be in the right position at the right time. They just trust each other and they don’t care about stats. They care about what the team does. It’s amazing what these girls do as a team.”
This summer, the ladies have played in five tournaments, winning three of them and finishing as runner up in the other two. Their overall record is 32-5. They’ll play in two league games tonight and will be off until Labor Day, when they’ll transition to the 16 & under division.