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Debs prep for World Series

It is an exciting week for the Prince Edward-Farmville Youth Association (PEFYA) Debs softball team. It was scheduled to arrive in Louisiana late Friday morning ahead of its Sunday start in the Dixie Softball Debs World Series.

The team blazed an undefeated trail through the recent state tournament in Kenbridge, becoming the first PEFYA Debs team to ever reach the World Series.

The days since the girls wrapped up the state title July 22 have been busy as parents, players and coaches have been busily engaged in fundraising and preparation for the trip.

The girls have learned about the impact they have had on people in the area.

“The community’s really been helpful to us,” PEFYA Debs pitcher Hannah-Gray Schmidt said.

PEFYA Debs Manager Michael Roach said, between July 23 and Wednesday morning, donations to the team had reached approximately $11,000.

“Certainly we want to thank everybody in the community that has helped,” Roach said. “It’s been amazing how much money was raised in such short period of time.”

The Debs held a chicken cookout fundraiser Tuesday at the Caboose, located behind the j fergeson gallery. The fundraiser was set to start at noon and continue until they sold out. They were sold out in one hour, raising $1,964.50.

The team also had a donation jar at the event, which the community generously filled up with $1,485.50.

A Go Fund Me page was set up for the team Saturday — https://www.gofundme.com/2fzthtft — and had drawn $1,360 across 20 contributors as of Thursday morning.

The funds required for the PEFYA Debs’ trip to Alexandria, La., are significant. The cost to rent two vans for transportation of the team is $1,800.

Gasoline and food will be significant expenses, but Roach said the team got a good deal on hotel rooms, drawing a $100-a-day rate for each of its 11 rooms.

The expectation is for the PEFYA Debs to be in Louisiana for at least four to five days.

They must participate in the tournament banquet Friday evening. They are the lone squad in the 11-team tournament to have a first-round bye, meaning they advance past Saturday’s play and hit the field Sunday at 9 a.m. at the Johnny Downs Sports Complex. Even if they lose, they will still have at least one more game to play in the double-elimination tourney.

The 11 teams competing will represent 10 states, with the PEFYA Debs representing Virginia.

“It’ll be interesting to see how we stack up against those teams,” Roach said. “I think if we play to our potential, I think we’ll put on a good show, and hopefully we’ll represent Virginia in a good fashion.”

In its first game, PEFYA will play either Alabama or Alexandria, the host team. While scouting is difficult at this level, Roach gleaned some knowledge of his team’s potential opponents.

“I do know that Alexandria has won the World Series at least a couple times in the past five or six years,” he said. “I think Alabama always carries a good team, so it’s going to be interesting.”

PEFYA has been resting this week, but “we plan on practicing Saturday down there, get the girls accustomed to the heat,” Roach said.

The team will move forward without its eldest player, Melissa Wright, who will not be able to make the trip due to work obligations, Roach said.

A force on offense, Wright had also been a key contributor in the circle, but Roach expressed confidence in some of his squad’s other pitchers, including Schmidt, Jaden Capati, Shaunice Beasley, Mary Grace Amos and Gracie Hodges.

“We’ll be OK on pitching, I believe,” he said.

With the loss of Wright, the 11-member PEFYA Debs team features players ranging in age from 13 to 16 years old.

“We’re a very young Debs team,” Roach said.

While many of the teams they will be facing feature all-stars pulled from multiple regular season teams, the PEFYA Debs had no other team to draw from.

Those still wishing to donate money can contribute on the Go Fund Me page or drop off a donation at PEFYA’s main facility.

For more information, contact PEFYA Softball Commissioner David Schmidt at (434) 390-8047 or teamschmidt1999@gmail.com.