Georgetown Central heads to lake after winning Junior League World Series

The Georgetown Central All-Stars were planning to jump into Lake Washington Saturday night.

That might have been the only thing that was going to cool off the West Michigan-based softball team.

Central defeated Southeast 5-1 in the afternoon’s Junior League World Series championship game in Kirkland, Wash. Central scored two in the third, two more in the fourth and a run in the fifth, and that proved plenty for Makenzie Cammenga, who pitched a complete game four-hitter.

“Literally, we go down to Lake Washington, and there’s a dock there,” Central coach Calvin Merritt said. “The whole team jumps off in celebration. Apparently, that’s what the champion does every year.”

Central, competing in the 13-14 age bracket, had plenty to celebrate after capping its week in Washington with a 6-1 record. Saturday’s win also enabled Central to avenge its only loss of the tournament since Southeast, based in Irmo, SC, beat Georgetown 6-5 in walk-off fashion in pool play Monday.

Georgetown struck in the third when Cammenga reached second on an error and came home on Autumn Dennis’ double to left. Dennis then scored on an error to put Central up 2-0.

Southeast scored its lone run in the bottom of the third, but Central answered with two runs in the top of the fourth. Macy Alkema walked, stole second, went to third on a groundout and eventually scored on an error. Moments later, Cammenga doubled home Natalie Tibbets. Central closed out the scoring in the fifth when Morgan Macek doubled home Julia Smith.

“It was a full team effort,” Merritt said. “We had great hitting, great defense. Mak came in and pitched today and she did a great job. This team plays together, and someone steps up when they have to.”

Georgetown features five players on its squad that won its fourth consecutive state championship earlier this summer. But this marked the first time the team was able to play beyond state, however. They earned their first two titles when they were 11 and 12, and a national tournament isn’t offered for that age bracket. The World Series was not played a year ago due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Saturday’s game was aired live on ESPN2. Central recorded walk-off victories in Thursday’s quarterfinal and Friday’s semifinal to earn a berth in the title game.

“We talked afterwards, and my two words were ‘Thank you,’” Merritt said. “Thank you for sticking with little league, thank you for believing in this team, thank you for being part of something special. There were a lot of tears around.”

Central will be flying out early Sunday morning and returning to West Michigan. A celebration is scheduled for 6 pm Sunday at the Vitale’s in Hudsonville.

“We have had tremendous support at home,” Merritt said. “There have been watch parties and they have been supporting us through social media and texting the girls. We get constant encouragement from both leagues, families and friends. The girls recognize it and appreciate it., and it has meant a lot to them.”

Central had seven hits, with Dennis and Callie Naber recording two each.

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