They can hold their heads high

There is a group of 12 girls who are probably still reeling from what to them was a devastating loss.

When you lose in the championship game of the World Series, that disappointment can stick around for awhile when you're 11 or 12 years old. With the wound still fresh, it might be difficult for the young players to look at the bright side of their situation.

Despite an 8-6 loss Wednesday in the title game of the 2010 Little League Softball World Series at Alpenrose Stadium in Portland, Ore., the players of the Burbank Major All-Star team have nothing to hang their heads about. In fact, the girls enjoyed an historic playoff run, and they should be proud of their accomplishments during a wildly successful season.

The way the local athletes carried themselves throughout the season — including at the World Series — and the way they played against the finest competition in the nation, these girls need to be celebrated. If I could organize a parade for them down the streets of Burbank, I would.

Just getting to the World Series was a monumental accomplishment. The Lady Legends not only had to take part in league play at the local level, but they had to win the District 16 Tournament, the Section 2 Tournament and the Western Region Tournament, to even get to the World Series.

The World Series appearance was historic, as the Lady Legends were the first squad from the Burbank Little League to advance to the international tournament in the nine-year history of the organization. With their run to the World Series, the team has set a high standard for future teams to aspire to.

Burbank's scrappy play in the championship — in which it lost to defending champion Warner Robbins, Ga. — showed the spirit and spunk that all the players possessed.

Down by four runs, and down to its final out, in the bottom of the final inning, Burbank refused to call it quits. Instead, the Lady Legends battled back and embarked on a comeback attempt that yielded two runs.

With the tying run at the plate and a runner on first base, Davina Del Castillo worked the count to 3-2. On the next pitch, it looked like the Burbank rally would continue, as Del Castillo wisely took a low pitch that was at her knees. As the ball passed the plate, Del Castillo began to throw her bat aside and start her trek to first. However, the umpire called the offering a strike, leaving the Burbank players, coaches and fans shocked.

After such a well-played game, it was unfortunate that the contest was halted on such a blatantly bad call. Burbank deserved better that that.

One of the toughest lessons in life is how to deal with unfortunate things that might come our way. Hopefully, the Burbank players learned from that unfortunate situation, and hopefully they can find solace in the fact that they played their hearts out and gave it their all.

There is no shame in doing something to the best of your ability and not coming out on top. It is the pride in the effort, not the result, that should be celebrated.

To me, the most enduring image of this Burbank team, something that will stay with me for a long time, comes from an incident that happened during the World Series title game.

In the third inning, Burbank catcher Bridgette Pisa and Georgia base runner Ashley Killebrew were involved in a violent collision at home plate. As both players lay sprawled in the dirt, a Burbank infielder, Michelle Santiago, approached the players. Instead of going to the aid of her teammate, she instead knelt down and began to consol her opponent. Just the fact that she would help a player she was trying to beat was both touching and inspiring.

But this Burbank team is full of fine, upstanding young ladies. The athletes, along with Manager Bruce Del Castillo and Coach Doug Nicol, deserve agreat deal of credit for making this season a magical one.

Although their season came to an end earlier this week, don't think you've seen the last of these girls. Along with the players who will be returning to the Major squad next year, look for many of them to star on their high-school teams in a few years. I've also heard that many of the girls are outstanding basketball players as well.

However, whatever they are able to accomplish down the line, they can look back and take pride that they were the first area team to make it to a World Series championship. That girls, is something you can hold your heads high about.

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