DeSoto County continues this weekend to host the Dizzy Dean baseball World Series in Southaven, attracting young diamond teams, players and parents into the area. Softball finals were played last week, and the baseball divisions wrap up their play this weekend at Snowden Grove Park.
At the same time this weekend, there is a softball team from DeSoto County that leaves town Saturday for another “World Series” of sorts. They have been ranked the best in the country for most of the season and plan to back it up with a high finish in their championships next week.
The team is called DC Elite 08, a group of 10 girls, ages 10 and under, and are made up of players from Hernando, Senatobia and Greenwood.
They are heading for Gulf Shores, Alabama to compete for a national title in the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) 10-and-under B division, starting Sunday through next Saturday.
Jimmy Pipkin of Olive Branch is the head coach of the team. Coahoma Community College baseball coach Lee Hodge, who has a daughter on the roster, along with Danny Brownlee, both of Hernando, assist Pipkin.
DC Elite has fashioned an overall record of 84-13-2 this year and are the Mississippi state champions in the division.
Pipkin, watching his team practice at the Senatobia Sports Park this week preparing for the national championships, said a lot of factors have gone into a group that has been dominating most games on the softball field. It starts with commitment from everyone to be “all in.”
“Dedication from the child and the parents,” Pipkin said. “I would not have this if the parents were not 100 percent in. Everybody talks about how good they are, but I praise my parents like I praise my kids. My parents are dedicated. If the parents buy in, the kids buy in.”
Pipkin said another trait of the team is a “never quit” attitude.
“They hate to lose,” Pipkin explained. “They don’t love to win, they hate to lose, and that has made them way better than a lot of teams around here. They don’t know what ‘give up’ is.”
The state championships held in Brandon recently were a prime example of the never-give-up philosophy DC Elite 08 has.
“We’re down 3-0 in the finals of the winner’s bracket and it’s getting late in the ball game,” Pipkin said. “I just took them together and said, ‘I will not let you give up today and let you get beat by them.’ It started with one hit and they started passing it on and by the end of the inning we were up 4-3 and they held on after that. The same team we beat in the finals of the winner’s bracket, they came back through to the finals and we beat them 8-3 in the championship game.”
DC Elite 08 this season has won 16 tournaments, events that are part of a grueling schedule of softball.
“In a tournament, we may play 7-8 games a day,” Pipkin said. “We’ve walked off the field as late as three o’clock in the morning, driving home for work and school the next day.”
The team has been number one in the nation for most of the summer, but Pipkin is pleased that the lofty recognition hasn’t gone to their heads.
“I think they know but they don’t care,” Pipkin said. “They don’t gloat about it, they don’t brag about it. They let the field talk for itself, and that’s where they are now. They’re gracious winners and they’re gracious losers.”
Members of the DC Elite 08 and their hometowns are: Callie Desmond (Nesbit), Alli Kyle Cunningham (Cleveland, Miss.), Chloe Bailey (Hernando), Brianna Coleman (Senatobia), Emerson Yount (Senatobia), Amberlee Holley (Hernando), Hayden Hodge (Hernando), Lillian Holley (Hernando), Stella Rose Cartwright (Cleveland, Miss.) and Kylee Garcia (Hernando).
“We took 10 girls, got them to love each other, trust each other, and when you do those things, you’re a winner, whether it be life lessons or on the ball field,” Pipkin said.
Other teams may express frustration or jealousy about the success of DC Elite 08, but instead they should be trying to emulate what has been a successful formula, one likely to continue in the future.
REBELS STRIKE MEMPHIS, JACKSON: Headlined by Rebel football coach Matt Luke, Ole Miss coaches and other university leaders will travel to Memphis and Jackson (Miss.) next week in the final two stops of the 2019 BancorpSouth Rebel Road Trip (RRT). The Memphis meeting will take place Monday, July 15 at The Bluff on Highland Strip. Festivities will start at 5:30 p.m. The speaking lineup will include Luke, basketball coaches Kermit Davis and Yolett McPhee-McCuin and interim athletics director Keith Carter. That same list of guests will expand to include Rebel baseball coach Mike Bianco on Tuesday (July 16), as the eighth-annual tour visits the Country Club of Jackson at 5:30 p.m. Visit bit.ly/30qV7nl for more information and tickets.
FCA GOLF EVENT NEARS: The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) continues to invite sponsors and players for its 12th annual State Qualifying Golf Scramble, Monday, Aug. 26 at Cherokee Valley Golf Club in Olive Branch. Winners in the net and gross divisions will advance to the state championship Monday, Sept. 16 at Old Waverly in West Point. At 1:15 p.m. the afternoon of the Olive Branch tournament, golfers will hear from Del Wright, Regional Vice President for FCA. For further information, contact Cecil Sowell at 901-409-1927 or email@example.com.
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor for the DeSoto Times-Tribune.