The Falls City Travelers 14-and-Under Softball Team saved its best for last in 2015, capturing the ASA Class D State Tournament Championship this Sunday in Hastings. FC entered the event with a pedestrian 14-12 record and didn’t finish higher than third in any regular season tourney, but Coach Rich Witt’s girls got on a roll at the right time, posting a perfect 5-0 record over the course of two days. After a pair of blowout victories over Friend (13-0) and Pierce (14-2) Saturday morning, the Travelers earned a come-from-behind 16-9 win over O’Neill that night, overcoming an early 4-1 deficit and breaking a 6-6 tie with a 10-run fifth inning explosion. Sunday, FC advanced to the title game with a dramatic comeback over Albion. Trailing 4-3 after five complete innings, FC used a one-out, four-run sixth to get the upper hand in a 10-6 win. Albion defeated O’Neill to set up a rematch with FC, but they hardly had enough left in the tank to touch FC pitcher Maggie McNeely, who tossed a two-hitter over seven innings in a 5-0 championship game victory.
The state championship was the fifth in three years and ninth overall for the Travelers program, which next summer will celebrate it’s 20th season.
“This was kind of a rebuilding season for us,” Travelers founder and coach Carl Messner said, “with a lot of new players and a lot of young players at all age groups. We didn’t field a 18-under team this year, not having any older players. But even with just four age groups we still won 82 games, finishing the season 82-49-1, and also went over the 1,200-win mark.”
“I’m looking forward to next year; we will be more experienced at all ages and will have 18-and-Under again. I’m setting a goal to next year’s players to win at least 90 games, so we can top the 1,300-win mark.”
The Travelers 14s photographed above, front row, from left: Mackensie Nelson, Mackenzie Witt, Chloe Schock, Randee Witt, Maggie McNeely; back row, coach Rich Witt, Teresa Morehead, Abbey Balfour, Nadia Klein, Hannah Kirkendall and coach Travis Witt.