‘They believe in themselves’: Buckingham Darlings set for tourney

Published 12:06 am Friday, July 5, 2024

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They just keep improving. That’s how head coach Eric Wood describes his Buckingham Darlings team. After a strong season, the team earned the title of District Champions back on Monday, June 17. Now they’re bound for a bigger tournament. The Darlings will represent District 5 in the state tournament taking place July 12 to 14 in South Hill. 

“It’s just been downright fun and rewarding, seeing this amazing group of girls get better and better every time they step foot on the field,” Wood said. “It’s a game of friendship, teamwork and hard work.” 

Wood reflects back on last month’s momentum, as the team of 7 and 8-year-old girls took on every challenge they faced. The Buckingham Darlings won their first three games in the district tournament, but then struggled against Fluvanna, before rallying to beat them 13-9 in the championship game. 

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“That moment and this group of girls will forever hold a special place in my heart,” Wood said. “Making it to states, it is nothing less than a dream come true for me.” 

It’s also a great experience for Wood as a dad, since his daughter Chloe is on the squad. 

“That’s what really got me into (coaching),” Wood said. “But now that I’ve started coaching, it’s my life and making sure these girls grow, develop and have fun is my goal.” 

And those are all things the fourth-year head coach has seen through the season. He points to effort given throughout the year, times where he’s seen players be unselfish, focusing on the team’s success rather than just themselves and being supportive of each other when things just aren’t going well. 

“These girls are not just good softball players, but good-hearted girls,” Wood said. “They are not just friends on the field but outside of softball life as well, which makes them hard to break.” 

Buckingham Darlings look ahead

And now, the Buckingham Darlings look ahead to the next challenge. They’re set to play Emporia in the second game of the state tournament. The winner of that matchup goes on to play the winner of Amherst and Clarksville. 

“When it comes to states, there will no doubt be some stiff competition,” Wood said. “You don’t make it to states unless you’re an all-around great team, but there’s nothing our girls can’t overcome. The coaching staff believes in them and, most importantly, they believe in themselves.” 

First pitch for Buckingham’s game on July 12 is set for 5 p.m. in South Hill.