South softball team honored at Series game

MARK NANCE/Sun-Gazette Pitcher Alizabeth Schuler throws out the first pitch as her team mates from the South Williamsport Little League Softball team look on before the Southwest vs Northwest game Monday.

When asked who was going to throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Lamade Stadium during Monday’s game between Minnesota and Louisiana, all the South Williamsport major softball players in the press conference quickly pointed to pitcher Alizabeth Schuler, who was seated on the dais with her coaches.

It was an obvious choice since Schuler was dominant through this summer’s softball run. Why not throw one more pitch?

“I think I’m going to be a little bit nervous because I’m going to be embarrassed if I throw it away,” Schuler said with a laugh.

Schuler’s first pitch was right on the money as Louisiana catcher Egan Prather caught it. The entire South Williamsport softball team was honored prior to the United States’ game and received a deserving applause from the thousands in attendance.

The team watched a video recap of their Series’ run on the scoreboard outside Lamade Stadium in left field before they were honored.

“It’s still a little bittersweet because I don’t think we played up to our potential out there, but I think the girls are going to realize really what they accomplished coming in the next few weeks. It’ll set in. As of right now? Not really,” South Williamsport manager Cory Goodman said.

Schuler and her teammates are used to the big stage now. The core of them have played together in three state tournaments, two regional tournaments and now a World Series with games broadcast by ESPN.

“I just thought of it as a normal game because if you thought of it as if you’re on TV … you’d make more errors because you’d be thinking too much and not just playing the game,” South Williamsport’s Lily Reidy said.

South Williamsport went 2-2 in pool play at the World Series in Portland, Oregon, and lost in the quarterfinals. But the team left Portland by winning a consolation game.

“To leave on a high note, it made us feel really good,” South Williamsport’s Lacey Kriebel said.

The team reflected too on how close-knit of a team they were and being able to bond in Portland together.

“We’re really close. We were in the dorms, we spent a week there and we got closer and shared different stories about our lives and we got closer,” Schuler said.

The girls also were at the MLB Little League Classic on Sunday at Bowman Field to watch the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs play and they signed plenty of autographs for numerous fans. And it was during that game a moment stuck out for Goodman when a lady came up to him and the players.

“A lady said, ‘my daughter now wants to play softball after watching you guys play all summer.’ It doesn’t get any better than that if you get kids who didn’t have any interest and now they want to come out and play and they’re growing the game?” Goodman said. “That’s kind of what it’s all about to me. I thought that was really cool.”