WHITTIER, N.C. — The final play of NAYO for the Seminole Impact epitomized the team’s determination on its path to winning the tournament’s 10U softball championship.
The Impact’s Lason Baker smacked a hard-hit ball deep into the outfield and raced around the bases.
She showed no hesitation rounding third base as she sprinted past coach Cheyenne Nunez in the box and her teammates on the bench. With home plate partially blocked by the catcher, Baker managed to beat the throw and scored while catching a piece of the catcher on her way by before tumbling to the dirt to give the Impact a 4-2 win.
Baker was shaken up on the play, but still participated in the postgame handshakes thanks to being carried on the back of coach Nunez.
The Impact won the championship at John Crowe Complex in Whittier, North Carolina,. while coming out of the losers bracket in the double-elimination tournament.
NAYO, which consists of the Seminoles, Seneca (New York), Poarch Creek (Alabama), Choctaw (Mississippi) and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (North Carolina), which hosted the three-day tournament in Cherokee and Whittier.
The Impact lost earlier in the tournament to MS Sparks, from Mississippi, but rallied to win five in a row, including the final two against the Sparks.
“These girls have a lot of heart. I kept telling them to believe in themselves,” said head coach Daniel Nunez Sr.
Earlier in the championship finale, the Impact’s Waniya Fortner belted a home run. The team received outstanding pitching and catching throughout the tournament from Charisma Micco and Joleyne Nunez, respectively.
Playing six games in about 48 hours under warm, summer conditions could cause just about any team to wilt, but not the Impact.
“They wanted it more and it definitely showed. I couldn’t be more proud of them,” said Cheyenne Nunez, who served as an assistant coach along with Eddy Gonzalez.
They’re a great group of kids. Their future is bright,” Gonzalez said.
The Impact were the only Seminole team, out of 12, to win a championship.