Rowan Little League girls return home

Published 9:58 pm Thursday, August 17, 2017

Staff report

SALISBURY — Rowan Little League’s 12U girls softball team returned home from the World Series on Thursday night, and were celebrated by well-wishers at Hurley Community Park.

The team, which had been at the World Series in Portland, Ore., for 10 days, finished as the national runner-up for the second straight year. Rowan lost to a team from Waco, Texas, 7-2, Wednesday night.

Rowan also finished second last year, losing in the title game to another Texas squad, 5-1. The 2015 Rowan team won the championship in Portland, defeating Rhode Island, 3-2.

Players have aged out and changed over the past three years, but the program is obviously very strong, to have have reached the World Series final for three consecutive years.

Dan Wales is president of Rowan Little League. Steve Yang was the head coach of the 2015-16 12U teams and Johnny Meadows coached this year’s team.

“I’ve coached in 2,500 baseball and softball games, some at the college level, over a 30-year period, and a bunch of 12-year-old girls are giving me the best coaching experience I’ve ever had,” Meadows said, after Rowan’s thrilling 6-5 semifinal win over Indiana on Tuesday night.

Meadows’ assistant coaches are Elizabeth Clarke and Brandon Piper. The team won six games in the World Series before coming up short against Texas.

Second baseman Kenadi Sproul went 12-for-20 with 14 runs scored in the tournament. Shortstop Emma Clarke was 11-for-20 with 11 runs scored. Madelyn VonCanon, a pitcher and first baseman, was 11-for-17 and drove in 10 runs.

Catcher Brooke Kennerly was involved in some key plays at the plate and also drove in both of Rowan’s runs in the championship game. Third baseman Allie Burns’ diving catch and resulting double play made ESPN Sportscenter’s Top 10 plays of the day on Tuesday night.

Like VonCanon, pitchers Kendall Robinson and Karsen Simpson did well throughout the tournament. Robinson was the winning pitcher against Indiana in the semifinals. VonCanon got credited for the wins against Philippines, Czech Republic, Delaware and Utah. Simpson got the win against Canada.

Outfielder Ashlee Ennis may have made the defensive play of the World Series when when ran down a long fly ball in the bottom of the sixth inning against Indiana — keeping Rowan in the lead.

Other team members are Bentli Meadows, Brooke Piper, Lilli Heard, Cailynn Winford, Katie Zocchi.

Sproul,  Kennerly,  VonCanon and Meadows were the only four returners from the 2016 team and none of those girls were members of the 2015 championship team.