CAVE CREEK, AZ — Cave Creek's Cactus Foothills Little League Softball team will be representing Arizona at the Little League Softball World Series in North Carolina next week.
The team's motto is "13 girls, one heartbeat," and it's that bond, dedication, and hard work that has gotten them this far.
“It means like we’re all together and we all trust each other for whatever we do," said player Lillian Hamel.
Hamel, 12, has been with the league for five years.
"It’s always been a dream of mine to like play and go to the World Series," she said.
The all-star team, made of girls 11-13 years old, represented the league in the district and state tournaments. They won both and recently the West Region Conference in San Bernardino, California.
"The girls went 4-1 and punched their ticket to the Little League Softball World Series," said coach Brett Cundall.
Cundall said the league has grown tremendously.
"Five years ago, we had only 20 girls playing in the league, now we have upwards of 150. The community is behind us, constantly following us," he said. “More and more girls, year after year are partaking in Little League softball, we are evidence of that.”
"It’s really cool to have people supporting us and knowing everything that we did so that our league can grow and softball can grow," said Hamel.
The Cactus Foothills Little League Softball All-Star team will be one of 10 teams competing.
"There's over 6,000 Little Leagues in the United States. We represent one of 10 little leagues that will be in the softball Little League World Series, that itself is a huge accomplishment," said Cundall.
"We’ve seen better pitching and more like competitiveness and better hitting," said player Bria Belden about the other teams.
"I’m a little nervous but I’m also just excited," said Hamel.
"We know when to focus and like went to have fun. And it’s really cool to know the difference that you can practice really hard and then have fun after," said Belden.
The team plays its first game on August 11 at 4 p.m. Arizona time. Games will be broadcast on ESPN+.
This year’s Little League World Series will only feature teams from the United States due to the pandemic. The Little League Softball World Series will feature 10 teams, with the top two teams from each of its five U.S. region tournaments advancing.