In the crazy year of 2020, the NYO 14U Patriots (AKA Bandriots) girls softball team had 20-20 vision on looking out for some hardware, and the team ended its summer travel season with a rain-shortened tournament title in Dacula, Ga. The Bandriots ended the abbreviated summer season with a solid 13-8 record, and showed many that a “rec ball” travel team can compete at a high level.
The Bandriots were led by a consortium of coaches, with experience going back to the “Smokey and the Bandit” days when Trans Ams were parked on the front row at Bones. The team was led by head ball coach Kent Tucker, whose NYO pedigree goes back to his own 14U playing days at NYO. Pitching coach Lee Carroll has also been chairman of the Chastain Park 500-Mile Golf Cart Club. Coach and honorary coin flipper Ron King won a Georgia record of nine consecutive flips during tourney action. Coach Seth Stewart was in charge of all fungo activities. And finally, Coach Jimmy Walker was dy-no-mite as head of the Gamechanger and Music committees. While working together flawlessly, they set the modern day NYO record for the most coaches per player in NYO history.
The NYO 14U team was led by moundsman and leading hitter CeCe Smith, who already had earned All Region honors for her North Atlanta High School team. Her battery mate was catcher Leela Langston, who came up through the NYO baseball ranks, and got things going most games as the team’s leadoff hitter. The team’s other pitcher was the youthful Vivian Carroll, who competed exceptionally well in the older 14U league. Shortstop Maggie Tucker batted in the #3 hole, and was one of the team’s leading hitters.
Utility-girl Libby Stewart had one of the defining hits of the season with a walkoff shot to left to help secure hardware from a previous tournament. Second baseman Riley King Walker made a bases-loaded stab of a line drive in a key tournament game that was shown on ESPN 20 – “The Veinte.” Caroline Rawls earned her music merit badge as the Drumline leader of the Bandriots dugout. Mia Alarcon notched the Most Improved Player award as she became an offensive force and a solid first baseman. Outfielder Virginia King had a Gold Glove season in the field, while CeCe Schrader had a great all-around summer while looking like a prototypical center fielder.
Outside of the lines, the team also could’ve participated in BBQ Cookoffs if the softball games didn’t get in the way. There was great fellowship on the team, and all in all, it was a fantastic concerted effort for a breakthrough NYO travel softball team.
Most of the Bandriots will soon be playing for their respective high school softball teams (if there’s a season….fingers crossed!), but they will be remembered as bringing smiles back to many faces amidst the tumultuous events of 2020. “Eastbound and Down, load up the bats and pack ‘em, they’re gonna do what they say can’t be done” – take rec ball to the travel world and flourish, like an 18-wheeler in the left lane of I-20!