KENNEWICK — For the second year in a row, the Othello 12U Stars are in the Babe Ruth Softball World Series.
The reigning Pacific Northwest regional champion will open the 12-team tournament in Andalusia, Ala., against Franklin, La., at 3:30 p.m. today.
Othello, Lodi, Calif., and Oviedo, Fla., are back from last year’s World Series, won by host team Santa Fe (Alachua, Fla.).
"It surprised me at the quality of teams last year," Othello head coach Gilbert Franco said. "We went 1-4, and it woke us up."
Othello's 12-player squad, evenly split between World Series veterans and newcomers, has shown incredible resilience this season.
"In our regional game against Ellensburg, we were down 5-4 with two outs, two girls on," Franco said. "The batter who was at the bottom of the lineup (Lexy Garza) was 0-for-2. I was like, 'Uh, oh,' but she hit a two-run triple to win it."
Othello and Lodi are the only two West Coast teams in this year’s tournament. Franco is eager to see how his team stacks up against its eastern competition.
"Last year, I was more nervous because I didn't know what to expect," said Franco, who coaches the Stars with his daughter Donna, a former Columbia Basin College player.
After today, Othello will have four more pool-play games, against Mineral Area, Mo. (8:30 a.m. Friday), Alexander City, Ala. (5:30 p.m. Friday), Fern Creek, Ky. (6:30 a.m. Saturday) and tournament host Andalusia (3:30 p.m. Saturday).