Arkansas Team Worth '01 fast pitch softball team won the ASA/USA Class A 12U National Championship on Aug. 2 in Bloomington, Indiana.

Arkansas Team Worth '01 fast pitch softball team won the ASA/USA Class A 12U National Championship on Aug. 2 in Bloomington, Indiana.

The team, which features Hope Hartle (second base/outfield), Gracie Hartle (pitcher, first base) and Joley Mitchell (shortstop) of Rose Bud, became the first Arkansas softball team to win a national championship at the ASA/USA national level.

“We started fast pitch softball here in Arkansas in 2000. We’ve had teams in the past win the southern or northern championships but they are the first to win a big one since we switched from slow to fast pitch,” said ASA State Official Walker Clark.
Clark said the team’s overall fundamentals set them apart.

“That team represents where we are with fast pitch softball in this state. They are real fundamentally sound. They have good pitching, good speed and they do a lot of things right. They have a lot of girls who work hard. They have dedicated parents and coaches,” added Clark.

Competing in a 73-team bracket representing states from California to Florida, the team fell into the losers’ bracket before bouncing back, beating the Franklin Tennessee Flames  twice to win the title.

Monday, July 28, kicked off a week full of ball games with an opening ceremony at the Indiana University Assembly Hall with an estimated 3,000 in attendance. Monday night, Worth '01 began pool play with a 10-2 win over Indiana Phoenix.  

Tuesday morning, Worth '01 defeated the Virginia State Champs, Orion-Hunter, by a score of 5-3.  Wednesday, as the number one seed from their pool, Worth '01 began bracket play, as Worth jumped out with an 8-0 win over Ohio Valley Extreme.  

On Thursday, Worth '01 battled hard against a good Arizona Hotshots team, coming out on top 3-2.

That evening, Arkansas Team Worth came prepared to face Tennessee Worth Hustle and came up with the win, 5-2.

Friday, with eight teams left in the winners’ bracket, Worth '01 met up with TexasFusion, with bats on fire, winning 13-0.

Rain and thunderstorms set in Friday evening postponing games until Saturday morning. With four teams left in the winners’ bracket, Worth '01 drew an early morning game and came up short, losing 3-2 to the Georgia Worth Cobras.  

The loss set the team back, giving them a tough task of winning five more games through 12 hours of back-to-back play to win the tournament.  

Knocking them down one at a time, Worth defeated Illinois Oak Park Windmills, 4-1, followed by big rival Texas Team Mizuno Impulse, topping them 4-1 as well.

Next up Worth had to face once again, the Georgia Worth Cobras, to make it back to the finals. Worth '01 fought hard in a battle of the bats, coming out with the win, 7-5.  

The Tennessee Franklin Flames, undefeated at the time, sat in the finals awaiting Worth '01. Being a double elimination bracket, Worth would have to beat them twice to win the championship.  

Arkansas Team Worth '01 did just that, as they defeated the Flames 5-3, and then 7-3 in the championship game to bring the title back to Arkansas!  

Clark said Team Worth, which qualified for the national tournament by winning a regional tournament in Mississippi, also had to win twice in the championship round to claim the state title – proving Arkansas has made huge strides in fast pitch over the past decade.

(Article courtesy of Kim Hartle with quotes from Walker Clark taken by The Sun-Times sports editor Will Gilbert)