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PCGSL, Law's legacy still going strong

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Brian Booth throws a pitch to August Overby as Logan Smith watches in the background during a Pitt County Girls Softball League practice Wednesday at the Sara Law Softball Complex. June 14, 2017. (Joe Pellegrino/The Daily Reflector)


The Daily Reflector

Monday, June 19, 2017

One of Sara Law’s greatest moments of elation came when she was in Manteo and won a state championship with the Pitt County Girls Softball League’s 13-15-year-old All-Star team in 1994.

It was around then when plans were in the works for a softball complex to be built in Winterville for the PCGSL, but Law contracted meningococcal meningitis and died in 1995 at age 15 without ever getting to play on the fields that three years later were ready for action and named in her memory.

The league started in 1993 and is celebrating its 25th year of existence this year, with 20 of those years seeing games at the Sara Law Softball Complex hitting full stride in the spring and summer months. Early June is typically a transition time, as some age groups are completing their spring seasons and some have shifted their focus to summer All-Star practices.

Anne Law, Sara’s mother, is still involved in the league. She doesn’t hide from her identity as Sara’s mom when she is at the complex, instead taking pride in telling parents and players about the passion her daughter had for softball.

“It just makes me feel good that all these girls have come through this league,” Anne Law said.

Anne and Jerry Law, who died in 2015 at age 69, are among the names of people who have been key to the league’s success. The list, which continues to evolve as players and families progress through the PCGSL and eventually age out, also includes Bo Batts, Mark Garner, original PCGSL director Tommy Cooke (and his wife, Francine), Mike Rowell, Charles Meeks and current president West Taylor.

Batts, who has been involved with the PCGSL since its second season in 1994 and still serves as a fundraiser and advisor, has seen plenty of trends, rules and strategies change with the times over the years. He said last week the key to the league’s foothold in Pitt County has been the Sara Law Softball Complex.

“I used to call it the Kinston Indians schedule (prior to 1998) because we played in Farmville, at the Winterville Recreation Park, in Bethel, some games in Ayden, Jaycee Park. It was crazy,” Batts said. “The league has always been stable, it was just the lack of that home field that we could call our own that created all the headaches with scheduling. ... Building Sara Law then really was a rallying point.

“It kind of brought everybody to the same point, because we lost Sara but thought about what we could do where something good comes out of this tragedy.”

Batts said in addition to Sara Law’s legacy, Jerry Law’s work with the league was centered around player participation and their constant involvement.

According to Batts, there were 17 teams in 1993 for the first season. Season 2 saw a jump to 41 teams, again with 15 players on each squad.

The participation numbers have fluctuated since, and Batts said the league is now averaging about 20 teams per season.

Games were played in slow-pitch format until 1997, when fast pitch was implemented.

Anne Law said the four-field complex honoring her daughter — which also hosts baseball tournaments occasionally — no doubt leads to intense games, but her hope is that there will always be various moments and emotions worth capturing.

“It’s there for the girls, and that’s the most important thing,” she said. “It’s not all about the competition, although we’ve had some really good things happen and teams go to the World Series.”

Pitt County has racked up a total of 11 World Series titles, with eight coming in the 12U division. All-Star action will pick up late this week with Pitt County teams likely primed for success in the state tournament in Chocowinity.

“Most years when we come back from winning the World Series, we see a nice bump (in numbers) for fall ball and that typically will carry over to the spring,” Batts said. “I think with that and just enjoying the reputation of putting out a first-class product with good coaches and great facilities has been key. Our facilities our as nice as anywhere in eastern North Carolina.”

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.