EAST TEXAS (KTRE) – They call themselves 'Bad Attitude 00,' but do not get the wrong idea, these girls are bad in a good way.
This is a group of tournament 10 year old softball players from the Lufkin/Nacogdoches area who came together about a year ago to carry on the 'Bad Attitude 00' tradition.
The original team is about three years old, this group has been playing together for the last 12 months. "Fate brought us together as much as anything. I'm the superintendent in Woden and I moved to the area," said Brent Hawkins.
Hawkins is joined by two Woden graduates and a Woden ISD employee with the sole mission of building character through softball. "We try to make them better people, show good sportsmanship on the field, not just on the field but help out in the community," said James Cates, Coach and Manager.
The coaches say this is a pretty tight knit group with good chemistry and a never quit attitude. They are very committed to the team. "We feel like we have an advantage of chemistry and work ethic. We have smaller athletes but they're faster and they have to outwork their bigger opponents in order to win," said Hawkins.
Hawkins says they focus on the core fundamentals of softball. He believes if they take care of the little things, the big things will come. "It's a classic story of David & Goliath. Most of their opponents that we've played have outweighed them on average 60-80 pounds," said Hawkins.
Nevertheless, they have found a way to win. In the last 12 months, Hawkins says 'Bad Attitude 00' has won more than 80 games. "Kinda like a football team, run first, pass second. We believe in small ball to utilize our speed and then we mix that in with long ball once our opponents make an adjustment to that," said Hawkins. Small ball is an offensive strategy where the batting team focuses on placing runners on base and then advancing them into position to score a run in a very methodical way.
Tournament softball play is expensive. Hawkins says fortunately they have had great support from the community. He says there are a lot of youth sports competing for the same pool of dollars and during a tough economy every sponsor counts. He also recognizes the great support the team has received from the Nacogdoches Youth Softball Association. "They've allowed us to use their facilities and they're one of our sponsors as we go on to the national tournament."
'Bad Attitude 00' finished the regular season 38 ASA District Champions, placed 3rd in state and qualified for the upcoming national tournament.
"We won our district and had one bad inning at state, wound up 3rd in the state tournament. We are hoping that we can put together a run and redeem ourselves from that one bad inning and walk away national champions," said Hawkins. "The best in the nation will be at the national tournament. It will be the best of the best."
Left fielder Aiyana Mitchell says she is very excited about the tournament and believes the team's hard work will pay off. Her teammate Christa Ratke, pitcher/all positions, echoes those sentiments. She is hoping supporters from East Texas will make it to the tournament to watch them play.
"I'm really excited because my 10th birthday is there and I think we're gonna win," said Hannah Hawkins, who plays third base and center field. "We have improved a lot since we first started, so we got a good chance in winning nationals, but the heat, sometimes we don't play good in the heat, so we just have to see what we do."
The heat will be on in more ways than one. Some of the of the best tournament teams in the nation will be at the national tournament in College Station this weekend and temperatures are expected to stay in the triple digits.
"We take it a tournament at a time. We tell them to just go out there and give us 110% and take it from there. They believe in each other," said Cates.
They all remember the heart the girls showed when they played for the district championship title. The game took 3 hours and 27 minutes. "It was two heavy weights slugging it out and the team with the biggest heart walked away with the prize that day," said Hawkins.
Hawkins also gives the parents much credit for getting the girls to practice, and he praises the players for their dedication and commitment despite the heat. "Not just on the practice field, but at games. It all goes back to them. They're the ones that do the work, us coaches, we're just there to give them confidence."
'Bad Attitude 00' will play Friday morning at 11:15 against Lake Jackson, which is a team from the Houston area. Check back here at KTRE.com sports this weekend to see how they turn out.