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Niceville Junior League Team returns home after turbulence.

A third-place finish wouldn’t be the last bit of excitement for the gals, who made up the Niceville Junior League Softball Team before they returned home to a celebration at LJ Schooners on August 7th. 

A smooth flight from Seattle to Atlanta turned into an eight-hour weather delay, then cancellation for the team. 

That cancellation put the team on the road in a purple party bus from Atlanta back to Niceville. 

“There was nothing, no flights, no buses, no trains, everything was shut down,” said coach Sarah Carnello, “Sop Little League rented a legit purple light party bus that drove us down from Atlanta.” 

Like everything else that’s happened on this major league softball trip – the team took the change of itinerary in stride. By 1:45 PM, about nine hours after the purple party bus left Atlanta, the team’s bags landed at Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport. 

Niceville's Junior League Softball Team prepares for a game dressed in their yellow and black uniforms.

The Last Game

The team’s last game – to take third place – never seemed to be in doubt for the Niceville team – who won the game 5-3. “I don’t think the other team (from Sealy, Texas) questioned it, either,” Coach Carnello said. “The girls still came out and played really hard. And you could tell our team was very competitive.”

The team from Bago City, Philippines (the team that finished ahead of Niceville in Pool Play) defeated Bristol, Connecticut (the team that beat Niceville for the spot in the championship game). 

Good news for the team, many of the girls on this year’s NVLL team will be back next year, which means they like their chances to make it back to Washington. That season will start next May. You will be able to register to play here. 

Adults who want to help coach softball teams are also needed for next year. “I love it,” Carnello said of her experience, “it’s fun, it’s rewarding, it’s challenging… it’s expensive. You have to love the kids, too.”

Coach Sarah Carnello smiles and holds up a finger to indicate the Niceville team is number 1.

Karaoke Party

The girls from Niceville’s Junior League Softball team love to sing. Like, a lot. They sing songs before, during, and after games. It’s just kind of their thing. So when the tournament was all said and done – the girls were sitting in the lobby – and decided to host a karaoke night for all the teams. “We were signing all of the songs that Niceville would sing. And all the teams that were competing against each other, all the teams that were going head-to-head were having fun together being friends, breaking bread, that kind of thing.”

Parents joined in, too.

The Niceville Juniors Team jams at Karaoke night after a third place finish at the World Series

Welcome Home

The team (and their baggage) made it back to Niceville Monday morning. Monday night, they will have a welcome home celebration – hosted at LJ Schooners in Bluewater Bay to celebrate their accomplishment – after all, they are the #3 team in the world. 

It’s the farthest any Niceville team has gone – and their accomplishments are undoubtedly worth a community celebration. 

Besides, the girls (and their coach) are due back in school on the 10th – and everyone is entitled to one last karaoke party before they hit the books, right? 

A Niceville Junior Leaguer and her parents smile for the camera

4 Responses

  1. As a parent of a 1997 World Series Softball player from SW Florida (they placed 2nd), watching these young ladies battle County, District, State, Regionals and then the World Series, I felt their excitement very close at heart. Each pitch brought back those treasured memories that these girls have now added to their lives. The fundamentals and teamwork will always be valuable tools, no matter where they go in their lives. Congratulations ladies!
    Way to bring it!! 💥🥎💥

  2. So proud of these girls. As a woman who played 30 years plus of softball, and daughters who played, we were all watching and cheering. They deserved much more media than they got. We’re very proud. Great job team!!!

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