There's not a lot of shade at Cherry Park, but the fans pulling for the Waukesha (Wis.) Firebirds were in the right spot at the right time for their opening game of the NSA Class B Girls Fastpitch World Series.
Their team was in the first-base dugout and the sun was blocked by the trees behind the stands to their right.
Sitting on the top row and at the end closest to the Firebirds' dugout was Debbie King, wearing a pink Green Bay cap. She had a notebook resting on her knees.
King was keeping a scorebook, not the team book, but her own.
"I'm keeping it for my daughter, Abby," King said. "I just started doing it this year and felt it would be something she can keep for her scrapbooks.
"This is a special time for us. A couple of families flew down but most of us drove. It's 15 hours from where we live and it took me two days. We missed Sunday's opening ceremonies because we got here Sunday night."
Carol Foltz, mom of Hannah Foltz, also drove and said the trip was a little over 900 miles. She estimated gas cost her $200 and said the most she paid per gallon was $4.25 at a stop in Indiana.
King said her family and others didn't bring the economy or gas prices into their conversations when planning their trip. The Firebirds had an option of playing in the Western NSA World Series in Peoria, Ill., but picked to come south because the girls wanted to see new places and not be matched up against teams they have already played.
The Firebirds are a 12-and-under team, winners of NSA and ASA state championships. Next weekend, they play in the ASA World Series in Springfield, Mo.
They qualified to play in the NSA World Series by winning a tournament in Chicago. The Firebirds played nine games in 48 hours, losing their first and winning the next eight for the title.
The Firebirds lost their opening game on Monday, 10-2 to the Lady Hawks from Florida. It was a bad start for the team from Wisconsin, as it fell behind 6-0 in the top of the first on four errors, two walks and a hit.
Firebirds coach Tim Osterday said it's not the worst thing that could happen.
"We always start slow in tournaments," he said. "It's like our girls are nervous, like they don't know what to expect when we play somewhere new.
"To make that many errors, you can't do that in a national tournament. And to walk batters. We had our best pitcher out there and she seldom walks anybody. But watch us. We'll be back."
The Firebirds have four sponsors -- Applied Products, Urban Manufacturing, Program Development System and PPG Industries, which has a plant in Chester County. They help with the uniforms, equipment and the team banner, but the parents pay for trips.
Carrie Hoppman, mother of Kristen Hoppman, said the Firebirds are a unique team because the 10 players go to different schools.
"Most of our players are from the Madison and Milwaukee areas, but we're from Sun Prairie and Abby King is from Oshkosh,'' Hoppman said. "We're south of Green Bay by around two hours, but all of us are Packer fans."
The conversations would have not been complete without mentioning Brett Favre and the Packers, one of the hottest sports stories going. After all, the cheeseheads in Wisconsin love their Packers.
Even 12-year-old girls have an opinion on Favre wanting to un-retire and get his starting job back, or get released so he can play elsewhere.
"He retired, so he can't un-retire and come back," said Hannah Foltz, who plays first and third base. "Besides Tony Romo, Brett Favre is my favorite player, but he needs to give the other quarterback (Aaron Rodgers) a chance."
Maranda Krueger, who plays shortstop, catcher and right field, agreed but her mind is on softball.
"We love it here," she said. "We really wanted to come here so we could play teams we haven't seen before. I don't think any of our players have ever been to South Carolina, but we like this complex here at Cherry Park."
Foltz said the only problem is the heat. The Firebirds played their first game at 11:45 a.m. Monday and the temperature was already nearing the 90s on its way to a predicted 97. Foltz said the temperature is around 85-90 back home and that it only gets as hot as it did on Monday "maybe once a year."
Kayla Krassman, who plays center and first base, said the key to the Firebirds is the bond they have formed. Foltz pointed out that because the players are from different schools, there is no school drama that carries onto the field.
"We are an all-around team,'' Krassman said. "We have good hitting and good fielding. We travel a lot, so we get along well and like playing together. We have a lot of fun."
The Firebirds played again on Monday, meeting North Carolina's Weekend Warriors at 4 p.m. on the same field at Cherry Park. This time, the Firebirds won, 10-4.
Osterday was right, the Firebirds are back.