South Tampa All Stars capture 2019 Junior League Softball World Series

Down three runs in the final inning, the team, featuring players from Tampa Bay and Interbay Little Leagues, staged a comeback to claim the title.
Published August 21

TAMPA — On the first Saturday in August around 4:30 p.m. in Kirkland, Wash., 14 teenaged girls from south Tampa looked up at the scoreboard and saw they trailed the “Southwest” team by three runs.

The girls were, literally, down to their final three outs in the bottom of the seventh in the championship game of the 2019 Junior League Softball World Series.

Do or die for the South Tampa All Stars.

The next 30 or so minutes were pretty cool: Jocelyn Campo reached on an error, Addy Swink walked, Lindsey Chadwick singled (scoring Campo), Julia Thaxton grounded out (scoring Swink) and Emilee Mezrah bunted into a fielder’s choice (scoring Chadwick on a play at the plate).

With one out and the score tied 6-6, Cassidy Lund stepped into the batter’s box.

“I felt really good,” said Lund, a 15-year-old first baseman. “The pitch came in waist high and I just hit it. It was the best hit of my life.”

The ball sizzled down the third-base line and deep into left field.

Mezrah ran home with the winning run.

The ensuing celebration ended not only a wild championship game (South Tampa trailed 5-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth inning), but a dramatic series of games during the World Series week and a wild ride through the entire playoffs, which began with districts in Tampa, followed by the state and regional championships in July.

In fact, South Tampa — featuring players from Tampa Bay and Interbay Little Leagues — added much drama to their situation after losing their first two games of World Series pool play (12-2 to the Philippines and 3-2 to Central).

The girls from south Tampa, however, rallied for five straight victories (two by one run) to take the title.

“It was the most fun you could ever have,” Lund said. “The games were great, but so was everything else about the experience. We all made so many friends from other teams and I’ve kept in contact with so many of the girls from other teams since I’ve been back.

“It’s something I will remember forever.”

The same could be said for Chadwick, who had a great week and a fantastic championship-game performance, going 3-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored while also throwing the final 3.1 innings, allowing one run.

Chadwick was then selected to have her jersey framed and hung up in the Little League Hall of Fame in Williamsport, Pennsylvania for the next year.

In the end, the South Tampa All Stars coach, dad Lonis Chadwick, couldn’t have been more thrilled — with everything.

“It was the most fun any of us may ever have for a softball experience,” Chadwick said. “That’s how great it was.”