Shenandoah Babe Ruth Softball teams earn high finishes in World Series

Chad Umberger made it pretty clear. It may have been a trip to Florida, but it was far from a vacation.

A pair of Shenandoah Babe Ruth teams returned from the southeast over the weekend, where they were playing in the World Series.

Both teams advanced to the knockout round with undefeated records but ultimately lost in the quarterfinals.

Page Comer’s 10U team lost a tight quarterfinal contest, 8-7, to Florida-based Bloomingdale All-Stars. They allowed all eight runs in the final two innings.
Shenandoah 12U, the defending World Series champion team managed by Umberger, also lost in the quarterfinals. New Jersey’s Vineland All-Stars edged out Shenandoah, 3-2.

The 10U team ultimately finished fifth, while 12U advanced to the championship game in 12U’s “Diamond Bracket” consolation round. Between the two teams, Shenandoah players earned five All-Offense or All-Defense awards.

Years from now, the highlights for the players and coaches likely won’t be the ins and outs of 100-degree softball games. Instead, it’ll be individual moments and unique experiences that very few teams get the chance to see.

“I think the girls enjoyed a unique experience being able to represent the state of Virginia,” Comer said.
One of the most exotic experiences came in the form of squaring off against China’s representative at the World Series, an 18-member team of girls from the Bonkid organization.

Drawing a team from the other side of the world begs the obvious question — how exactly does one play a softball game against a team of girls who don’t speak english?
“They had interpreters in the dugouts, explaining the calls to them,” Umberger said. “It’s probably the first time anyone from our itty-bitty town has played against someone from out of the country.”

There’s also the matter of practicing through a hurricane. While tropical storm Emily dumped on Florida and wiped out last Monday’s schedule of games, Shenandoah teams waited out the rain, going bowling or watching TV.

That evening, as the weather improved, Shenandoah players trotted outside into the humidity and held a practice behind their hotel.

Yes, it was a unique set of circumstances, one for which the surrounding community graciously donated over $25,000. Just don’t mistake it for a Floridian vacation. As the players and coaches will tell you, this trip was the culmination of weeks of hard work and dedication, outplaying and out-sweating dozens of teams from all over the country. They’re exhausted.

“Our families and the town, this community has strived and sacrificed for this,” Umberger said.

Umberger says he’s out of vacation days. It was worth it, though.

“This whole experience, it keeps Shenandoah on the map,” Umberger said. “It keeps Page County on the map. It keeps Virginia on the map.”

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