Dixie Darlings grab two
By By Will Bardwell / staff writer
Aug. 7, 2003
Most teams only dream of winning a world championship over the course of a year. The Dixie Darlings won two of them.
The Darlings, an Under-19 traveling slow-pitch softball team, accomplished the feat by winning the world tournaments of the National Softball Association (NSA) and the United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA). Composed solely of in-state talent, they lay claim to being the first slow-pitch softball team from Mississippi to win two world championships in the same year.
Mike Hinton, the team's head coach, started the squad in 1981. Over the past 22 years, it has become one of the most dominant select softball teams in the region, winning 36 state championships over its history.
Lauren White, who plays first base for the Darlings, said the competition at the NSA and USSSA tournaments was much tougher than she was used to competing against.
Hinton said he selects fundamentally sound players based on recommendations from high school and junior college coaches. As a high school umpire, he also gets to scout prospects for himself.
Despite the fact that the team did not conduct any organized practices this year, the Dixie Darlings developed team chemistry very quickly.
Suzanne Chaney, a recent graduate of Newton County High School who plays pitcher for the Dixie Darlings, said many of the players had been teammates before they joined the Darlings. That familiarity helped the team quickly develop a high morale.
That demeanor, according to Hinton, is what helped the Dixie Darlings succeed this year.