Recreation officials say things could get even better as two local teams represent not only Bartow County but Georgia next week in the Southeast Regionals in Fort Myers, Fla., and Clearwater, Fla.
Bartow's Junior League tournament team won the Georgia State Junior League title Wednesday by defeating Warner Robins American, 6-2.
The Junior League team will go to Fort Myers on Thursday to begin pool play against North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. The winner goes to Kirkland, Wash., to compete in the World Series against teams from across the United States and other countries.
The Bartow County Big League tournament team, which is the Georgia representative, leaves Thursday for Clearwater, Fla., to compete in pool play against foes from Virginia, West Virginia, Florida and Tennessee.
"We are proud of the Junior League team," Greg Hight, BCPRD director, said. "They won a state title. We feel both teams have a good shot at winning at this level."
Hight added the managers of both teams -- Jimmy Bailey and Randy Rutledge -- have expressed appreciation to their high school softball coaches in Bartow County "for their support and cooperation and for giving their players on the respective teams the chance of a lifetime."
He said players from all five high schools in Bartow County make up the teams.
"That's the part I like about it," Hight said. "You can see an athlete wearing a jersey from her high school and never know her. Now they know each other and that the players from other schools are just like them, they have their hopes and dreams. That's what it's all about."
Rutledge, the 18U coach who played high school ball at Cass and now lives in Euharlee, said melding students from different schools has not been the chore one might have expected.
"I guess playing together last year helped us out this year," he said, noting many of the present all-stars were on the team a year ago.
That team did well in the Southeast Regionals and against squads from around the world in the World Series in Kalamazoo, Mich., finishing fifth.
He added he and assistant coach James Johnson, who lives in Adairsville, have added three new players to their roster this year.
"We have players from all five high schools," he said. "I think they have jelled pretty well."
Rutledge said this team is able to "hit the ball pretty well and advance around the bases.
"But we have to stay focused on winning in the Southeastern Regionals."
Bailey said the 14U team also has melded.
"Most have been playing competitive ball since they were 10 and have known many of their teammates since about age 8," he said.
The coach, once a Lassiter High ball player who has been coaching a number of years, said winning the state title meant a lot to the team, but he said they have a lot of talent.
"This team really has no weaknesses," he said. "We have five players who can catch, four who can pitch and the rest can play anywhere. That versatility makes this team special."
Bailey said there are some long ball hitters but it's their ability to keep the offense rolling that sets them apart.
"We can small-ball you to death," he emphasized.
Bailey said the strong support from parents and grandparents also helps: "When we won the state, they were so loud one of the coaches and I kept saying how unusual that was."
He also gave credit to assistant coaches Chris Howe and Shannon Cantrell, saying they put in a lot of time working on hitting and defense.
"They hit so many flies and grounders to the team throughout the season."