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Hepburn Lycoming hosting 9-11 softball state tournament this weekend

PHOTO PROVIDED Hepburn-Lycoming 9-11 Softball All-Stars hold the District 12 championship banner. In the front row: Aubree Shaylor, Maslyn Hess, Brielle Thornton, Payton Pennycoff, Abigail Holbrook. Back row: Marley Naugle, Daniella Brigandi, Katelyn Solomon, Carly Loudenslager, Carolynn Hubbard, Layla Hornberger. Coaches from left: Shannon Shaylor, Ben Brigandi, Bo Hornberger.

Hepburn-Lycoming Little League will host the 9-11 softball state tournament this weekend — beginning today and running through Sunday — as one of three participants. The other two teams are from Warren and the Delaware Valley Youth Athletic Association in Philadelphia.

This is a three-team double elimination tournament, with all games at Hepburn’s home field at Mutchler Park off Rt. 973 in Cogan Station. Hepburn opens the tournament vs. DVYAA at 5:30 today, with the winner facing Warren at noon Saturday. There will be a playback game at 4 p.m. Saturday between the loser of Friday’s game and Saturday’s early game.

The championship is set for noon Sunday, with an “if” game to follow at 3 if necessary.

Hepburn qualified as the only representative from Section 3, which stretches from the Northern Tier south to the Pottsville area. Hepburn was also the only team to enter locally in District 12, after a possible opponent dropped out just prior to the pre-tournament coaches’ meeting in early June.

That left Hepburn practicing since then with no opponents. The team did complete two scrimmages against Williamsport Area LL players, and the WALL players sent off Hepburn last week with good-luck presents of a team autographed ball and cupcakes.

Players thought they were headed to Johnstown this weekend, but Little League state officials initially canceled the tournament because it had only three teams. A full tournament would have encompassed all eight sections across the state.

Hepburn did not learn of the decision until this past Monday night after practice, when league president Marc Hess received messages en route back to Williamsport from his son’s state playoff game in Major Baseball.

Hess informed Hepburn coaches immediately after arriving in the Mutchler Park parking lot, leaving Hepburn manager Bo Hornberger to call Warren and DVYAA coaches within minutes to discuss options. The other two teams agreed to come to Hepburn, and Little League state officials designated the tournament as official two days later.

Warren is from Section 1 and DVYAA Is from Section 8. Little League 9-11 softball tournaments end at the state level.

Hepburn team parents and league volunteers worked on field improvements this week.

“I am extremely proud of our girls for their hard work and dedication,” said Hornberger. “It’s been a long five weeks of practices with a few scrimmages to get them ready for the tournament. When we got word that the state tournament in Johnstown was canceled, we acted quickly to bring the other two teams in to play. We couldn’t have made this happen without the support of our coaches, parents, and volunteers that we have. This was all done for the kids to get to showcase their hard work and give them the opportunity to compete.”

Most of the 11 Hepburn players competed in the regular season in Major Softball for Mountaineer Lounge of South Williamsport LL. But the team became a Hepburn one for the tournament because most of the roster was Hepburn after calling up three Hepburn Minor Softball players from Shaylor’s Ponds & Patios. The call-ups were Aubree Shaylor, Maslyn Hess and Payton Pennycoff.

Hepburn players from Mountaineer were Marley Naugle, Katelyn Solomon, Carolynn Hubbard, Layla Hornberger, and Brielle Thornton. South players from both this team and Mountaineer are Daniella Brigandi, Abigail Holbrook, and Carly Loudenslager.

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