By RICK ELMORE
For The Wayne County News
HUNTINGTON - Like celebrities arriving at a red carpet event, the girls of the 12-under Buffalo Babe Ruth All-Star team arrived at Camp Mad Anthony Wayne near Spring Valley High School on Aug. 7 for a celebration of the team's run to the World Series championship game in Florida two weeks ago.
A long line of cars, each carrying one of the 12 girls on the team, arrived at the lodge escorted by West Virginia State Police with each of the girls giggling at the amount of attention heaped on them.
"People didn't think we were going to make it here," said Libby Saunders, the team's catcher. "We surprised everyone."
Team members said they even surprised themselves. It wasn't until the championship game that it dawned on the players what the team had done, they said.
Their efforts were celebrated at the camp's lodge with food, cold drinks and music. The girls were seated at the front of the room at two long tables separated by a podium where league supporters, coaches and the state's Babe Ruth commissioner praised them for their play.
The all-star team from the Ceredo-Kenova/Buffalo Babe Ruth League swept through state and regional tournaments to arrive at the World Series in Treasure Cove, Florida undefeated. The girls remained undefeated through four games in pool play.
Receiving a first-round bye, Buffalo defeated Clermont 4-0 and the Hawaii Strikers 7-4 to earn its way to a best-of-three championship series against Egg Harbor, New Jersey. It was a team the girls came to know well after sharing a hotel in Florida together. The two teams quickly became friends.
"It just turned out that they all ended up playing each other," said Tammy Harris, whose granddaughter Lydia Smith played on the team. "Our girls were still smiling even after they lost because they were happy for this team."
Buffalo defeated New Jersey in one of the three games they played but a double play with the bases loaded ended the team's chance of winning the championship.
The team earned respect for dominant pitching and power-hitting.
Skyler Lawrence, third baseman, set a Babe Ruth League World Series record with six home runs, easy passing the old mark of two.
"We enjoyed hanging out as a team and we made friends with the other teams," said Lawrence. "We went to beach, like three times."
Mike Stevens, the West Virginia Babe Ruth Commissioner, told the girls the community and the state were proud of them.
"Remember the moment," Stevens told the team.
Stevens reminded the crowd gathered that besides the 1960 Huntington Babe Ruth which won the baseball Babe Ruth World Series, no other team from West Virginia had ever gone to the finals and the Buffalo girls were the first softball team to make the championship final.