Local NH 8U softball team trying to finance trip to Babe Ruth World Series

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 07-11-2023 1:50 PM

The 8U Bumblebees softball team knew it was good. The coaches just didn’t realize how good.

Since May, the team – consisting of 11 girls entering third and fourth grades from Tilton and Northfield – played in 28 games spanning four tournaments. They won all 28 of those games. Now they’re trying to raise over $35,000 to cover a trip to the Babe Ruth World Series, held in Jensen Beach, Fla., from July 26 through August 4.

The strong start to the season brought optimism, but conversations about trying to take the team to Florida didn’t accelerate until after winning the New England regional on July 2.

“We went to regionals, and these umpires are seasoned, and they’re like, ‘You guys can make some noise down there. You gotta make a push,’ ” head coach Jay Brady said. “That kind of pushed everything over the edge.”

Traci Milbourne, whose daughter Layla plays on the team, organized a GoFundMe effort to help raise money. The players have also had lemonade stands and other fundraisers to do whatever they can to have this experience in Florida.

And it’s truly just that: an experience. At 8 years old, it’s too early to be playing for college scholarships.

“It’s good recognition for our state and the talent that they have at such a young age as athletes,” Milbourne said. “They’re just a great team. They have good teamwork, good leadership, good dedication for being so young. … They’re so passionate and just want to show off their skills.”

The program trains year-round, generally practicing once or twice a week. It’s no small commitment for kids going into third and fourth grade.

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“These girls are super dedicated,” said Brady, whose daughter Corah is also on the team. “These girls are eager to stay late and stay longer, go to optional practices. They just have a really special bond between them.”

To Brady’s knowledge, this would be the first time an 8U team from the area participates in the Babe Ruth World Series.

In the meantime, though, the program’s back is against the wall to try to make the trip a reality.

“It’s a lifelong experience that they’ll hold forever,” Brady said.

“Whether they win or lose, it’s a bond, and it’s a steppingstone in their lives not only for sports but just overall teamwork and dedication.”

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