Celebrating their state championship are, back row, from left, coaches Matt Terry, Roman Quinn, Josh Dandy and Mike Thomas. Standing, from left, are Laken Hicks, Mallory Terry, Gracie Bishop, Iva Bailey, Jaelyn Edwards, Harmony Banks, Londyn Quinn and Skye Thomas. Kneeling, from left, are Myah Dandy, Kenzlee Whitley and Khyla Rhodes. In front is Aubrie Forehand. [ PSJ Angels | Contributed ]

Port St. Joe Angels win state title

For the first time ever, Port St. Joe’s Angels, an All-Star team of the finest age 10-and-under fastpitch softball players from Dixie Girls Softball, is state champion.

After taking the district title in Wewahitchka last month, the Angels, made up of the top dozen players from all three of the county’;s teams, traveled to Marianna two weeks ago and took home the Florida state championship in five games, despite a loss to West Pasco in the second game. 

“I told the girls ‘What a story it’s going to be when we come back from one loss,” said head coach Roman Quinn. “We fought every inning. I couldn’t be any happier for these girls.”

With the assistance of coaches Matt Terry, Mike Thomas and Josh Dandy, Quinn’s squad dominated the districts, defeating Blountstown and Wewahitchka twice, and Franklin County once, while falling to Blountstown once in the fourth game.

The district title led to the state championship series in Marianna against some tough competition.

On Friday, June 28 the girls won 3-1 over Chipley, but on Saturday, June 29 lost 4-2 to West Pasco before downing Cottondale 8-1 in the second game of the doubleheader. On Sunday, June 30 the girls avenged their earlier loss to West Pasco and shut them out 5-0.

On Monday, July 1, it would be another showdown against nemesis Blountstown, and it had fans on the edge of their bleacher seats.

The game was tied 3-3 going into the bottom of the fifth.

Mallory Terry #11 opened with a hit, and then stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball. Myah Dandy #8 was on the wrong end of a strikeout, but first baseman Skye Thomas #4 snapped the tie by smacking the ball into the outfield, scoring Terry as the crowd erupted with the walkoff win.

“There was no better person to get the walk-off hit,” said Quinn. “She came up really big for us to send us to the World Series. All that hard work in the cage paid off.”

The coach shared praise for each member of the squad, beginning with Aubrie Forehand #16, the team’s number one pitcher, who struck out 27 in 13 innings while giving up just one run. 

“Once she gets on the mound, she’s competitive and goes after batters,” said Quinn. “She fills up the zone and puts us in the best position to win.”

Also pitching in the state title series was Khyla Rhodes #7, who struck out 17 over seven innings. Often playing shortstop, Quinn said “Rhodes has come a long way. At state, her bat started to wake up, she hit home runs and pitched a great game against Cottondale.”

Right fielder Gracie Bishop #3 is “a fierce competitor when she steps in the box. She threw out a couple runners and helped us win games.”

Another pitcher Harmony Banks #5 was on the mound for 13 innings in districts, during which she gave up no runs and struck out 15 batters. “She’s shown a lot of growth; she pitched very well,” Quinn said.

Behind the plate is Iva Bailey #19, the daughter of former Port St. Joe student athlete Ray Bailey, now coach of the Franklin County boys basketball team. 

Pitcher Aubrie Forehand, left, and catcher Iva Bailey confer after the game. [ Judy Williams | Contributed ]

“She’s a really good catcher,” Quinn said. “Behind the plate every inning for us she’s a big leader for these pitchers. She brings a spark of momentum in getting these pitchers going.”

Equally competitive is outfielder Jaelyn Edwards #99. “She may be small in stature but I can count on her competing and giving her best,” said the coach.

The team’s leadoff hitter, Kenzlee Whitley #55, adds speed to the lineup. “She’s very fast, a spark plug for our team,” said Quinn. “Every time she makes contact she’s putting pressure on the defense.”

Outfielder Laken Hicks #13 is among the team’s best hitters, and has tallied multiple clutch hits. “When she gets up to bat, I can rely on her getting the ball in play,” said the head coach.

Quinn’s daughter Londyn Quinn #24 is in her first full season playing softball. “She’s come a long way,” said her dad. “It’s nice to see the growth she’s been making on the field, and I’m grateful she has this opportunity. She got on base a bunch at state; I’m happy she has this moment.”

Terry, who scored the winning run in the state championship game, gives it her all, said Quinn. “Whatever I ask her to do she does it without any complaints,” he said, “ She goes hard every play. At state I saw her starting to turn the corner.”

Myah Dandy #8 punctuates her game by pounding the plate every time she steps up to bat. “It’s to let the pitcher know she’s here,” said Quinn. “She had clutch hits in the state tourney. I can always count on her to have a really good at bat. I’m happy to have her on my squad.”

Thomas, who had the winning hit in the state title game, is known for her strong play at first base. “She fields it well, always in the right spot at the right time,” said the coach. “She knows how to play it.”

While Quinn is pleased with the team’s level of fielding, it has not been flawless, and they’ll be doubling down on that aspect of their game between now and the July 26 to 31 World Series in Prince George, Virginia.

“We made a couple errors in the state tournament, and in the district we had a couple overthrows,” Quinn said. “We field well, we are a very complete team. These girls have been really solid, every game they went out and competed.”

The team and its devoted volunteers have stepped up their fundraising effort, by auctioning off baked goods, holding a raffle – of a Roman Quinn signed bat and nights at an Airbnb – at the Port St. Joe Salt Air Market, hosting a fish fry at Scooter’s Chicken, an event at the Cozy Cafe on Wheels, and more.

“I’m just grateful for this community,” said Quinn. “In times like this we come together as one, we cheer on and we support our town. I’m thankful for this community.”

For more information, reach out to Lisa Forehand at lisaforehandrealtor@gmail.com

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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