Plum Outlaws complete perfect season

Monday, September 11, 2017 | 11:00 PM

A season that began with question marks turned out to be a season that ended in perfection and in a World Series championship.

Coaching a group of 15- and 16-year olds comes with plenty of challenges. Jobs, driver's license exams and social lives stood in the way at the beginning of the season. There were so may distractions that the Plum Outlaws slow-pitch softball team had to cancel its first practice because of low player turnout before the Outlaws coach gave an ultimatum.

“I sent an email to parents that we're in it to win it,” Outlaws coach Eric Seigh said. “The first practice is canceled and don't get back to me until they get committed and tell me what nights can work. The big challenge this year, that I think we were unprepared for, was that they have jobs.”

Seigh's wake-up call was all his team needed. His Outlaws completed a perfect 26-0 season and were crowned United States Specialty Sports Association under-16 World Series-East champs.

“It's quite an accomplishment,” Seigh said. “This group and this team played together last year in the under-15 age bracket and were in some close games last year and couldn't find a way to win those games. And this year, we challenged them to win those games.”

The road to the slow-pitch World Series in Beavercreek, Ohio was paved with plenty of challenges. There were tournaments where the Outlaws played against older players, including their big sisters in the under-19 Plum Nitro, who had long been the most recognized softball team in Plum recreational ball. The Outlaws got the better of them to win the Penn Township tournament.

“Everything we did out here in Pittsburgh and that we did against the under-18 and under-19 teams definitely did good things for us,” Seigh said. “Playing against those older kids and having success instilled the confidence that they were capable and were able to succeed.”

But it was the Kennedy Township tournament that had Seigh and his Outlaws thinking big. Recognized as one of the top events in that area, it had Seigh thinking World Series.

“I gave the greatest pre-game speech I ever gave in my life, and I think that is the moment when these kids realized that we're good,” Seigh said.

“Once the local tournament season came to an end, the plan was in place to travel to Beavercreek for a shot at a World Series title. Seigh and his Outlaws took two weeks getting ready for the nuances of slow-pitch softball. In slow pitch, the ball most travel to the plate and hit a 3- to 10- foot high arc along the way. That was something this group of girls had a hard time adjusting to the last time they traveled to a World Series event in the under-12 age bracket.

“When we went out as 12-year olds, we were shocked and not prepared for that, and our pitchers had to adapt on the fly and our hitters needed to adapt on the fly,” Seigh said.

After running through the under-16 World Series bracket with a perfect 5-0 record, the Outlaws found themselves trailing 10-6 in the bottom of the seventh to the Rage, a power-hitting team from McMinnville, Tenn. But with two outs, the Outlaws staged a dramatic comeback and scored five runs to get the win and finish the season undefeated and as champions.

“We had an end-of-season party, and I said, ‘theres two things — overcoming that adversity and No. 2, let's not forget how this all started,' ” Seigh said.

William Whalen is a freelance writer.


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