Two Lady Braves softball players, Sophomore Cali Harrod and Freshman Jordan Watson, traveled cross-country to California this summer and returned home as National Champions after the Premier Girls Fastpitch National Softball Championships took place July 28- August 4.
Harrod and Watson are members of the 14-U Atlanta Vipers travel team and were not the only Heard County connections to the team.
Charles Echols, considered by many to be the best baseball player to ever compete in Heard County, coached the girls at the tournament.
Echols was a member of the 1984 North Georgia championship team at Heard High School. “We expected to do well in California after having a really strong season. I am so proud of our team, ” stated Echols in an interview.
His daughter, Ebonee Echols, a middle-infielder for the Northgate Vikings, was crucial to the team’s amazing success in the tournament which featured 50 teams from all over the country. She homered in a game versus Batbusters McNee.
It was not an easy road for the Vipers who, after an early loss in the tourney faced multiple must-win scenarios. In fact, the girls had to play six games on Friday to advance to Saturday’s Championship game versus the Southern California Athletics.
The Vipers defeated the A’s 3-2 in the Championship game which was later televised in several regional markets throughout the country.
“To know that we are the best 14 and under team in the country is just an unbelievable feeling. I really can’t put it into words.”~Cali Harrod
Cali and Ebonee played big defensively in the game making nine total put-outs between them, and Watson posted an awesome ERA of 1.11 during the nine tournament match-ups.
The Viper’s win was the first ever National Championship for a non-California team. Southern California is the considered to be the hotbed of fastpitch softball.