In the world of sports, winning a championship is certainly quite the accomplishment, one that most teams will never get to experience.
Winning two is even better, with a much shorter list of fellow repeat champions.
But three in a row?
Now that’s something that you just don’t see every day, and may never see again.
The Bob Horlacher major girls softball team is very familiar with being state champions, and play this season with a chance to win a third-straight state championship.
Last year, the girls claimed the Pennsylvania State Little League 10-11 Softball Championship in Exton.
The year before that, they had won the state Little League title as 9-10 girls in Greensburg and advanced to the East Regionals. Although they lost to Delaware’s Canal Little League in the semis and New Jersey’s Robbinsville Storm Little League in the consolation game, they were the only team to beat the eventual U.S. Eastern Champion out of New York.
This year, playing at the 11-12 age level, the team returns all but one girl from the state championship team.
“We have those nine girls, and they certainly know what it takes to win,” Horlacher manager Doug Jones said. “They know the commitment that they need to have at practice, they know what’s involved and they understand the sacrifice.”
One of the key to a state championship caliber team is certainly sacrifice, which must come from both the players, and the parents.
“The girls are giving up their whole summers so it’s quite the commitment,” Jones said. “There’s a lot of travel and tournaments to go through and it can be exhausting for the kids and parents. Everyone has had to give up a lot, but in return they’ve won championships. The girls know that they’re there to get better, work hard, try to win and continue to progress.”
The addition of four new players to the fold shook things up a bit, but the team has continued to evolve and shows no early signs of slowing down.
“The addition of four new girls has been a challenge in itself and been different, but they fit in,” Jones said. “Our main concern was losing a very good pitcher from last season and how that would affect us. So far we’ve had three girls step up and it’s been a pleasant surprise to see that they’ve all done well right out of the gate..”
“That’s a positive for everyone, because as you get deeper into the season and playoffs, pitching becomes important, especially with back-to-back games.”
Horlacher’s pitching has been a dominant part of their game so far, but the hitting has also continued to improve. Both should most likely continue to get better as the season wears on.
“Each of our batters has a tweak or two that they can work on, and as they see more pitching and work on their hitting, they should get stronger at the plate,” Jones said. “I’ve seen a lot of good hits early on and strong at-bats, but we’ll still have to work on our small game a bit.”
As far as a three-peat is concerned, Jones said this year has its challenges, such as a change to the Little League rules, which allows some players to play for either the Little League team that falls in their school district or another team depending, on their residence.
“The past several years we’ve seen the same competition and knew a lot of the teams so it was easier to put a game-plan together, but now you have no idea who you might see,” Jones said.
Despite the obstacles, Jones hasn’t ruled out the possibility of bringing home yet another state title, but regardless of the end result, plans to have fun in the process.
“It will be very challenging but we’re just going to go out there and have fun with it,” Jones said. “If they can pull it out this year, it will be quite the accomplishment, that’s for sure.”
The Bob Horlacher League will host its official opening day ceremonies on Saturday, May 17, at the Beaumont Complex.
Festivities start at 11 a.m.