Playing softball is not only about joy but also about sacrifice.
Taking off work, spending money and burning in a heat of about 100 degrees are some of the sacrifices parents have made to watch their daughters play in the NSA Class B Girls Fastpitch World Series taking place in Rock Hill and Charlotte this week.
"You can look at it as a sacrifice," said Gina Peterson, mother of player Emi Peterson of the Hanover X-treme from Mechanicsville, Va. "We do spend a good deal of money. It can be expensive."
However, Peterson said she doesn't consider a sacrifice what she and her husband do for their daugther.
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"We do what we gotta do," she said. "Our life surrounds around our kids. It's worth it. It really is."
A parent who agrees with Peterson is Melissa McCubbin, mother of player Kadi O'Shell of Carolina Hit-N-Run of Hickory, N.C.
"It's all worth it. Just to watch the girls do what they love," said McCubbin, who took off work to see her daughter play.
Kevin McLaughlin also thinks the same. Father of player Kelly McLaughlin of the Outlaws-White of Weddington, N.C., he said the girls gain a lot with the softball experience.
"Girls learn to be tough, to deal with pressure," he said.
But not only the girls gain with the softball experience.
"We gain a lot, too," McLaughlin said, referring to the time parents have at the tournament to spend with their daughters, friends and neighbors. "It's a mini vacation. We have a very good time."
• NO MICKEY?: To battle in the softball field, girls also have to make sacrifices.
"It takes up most of your weekends," said O'Shell, 12.
She also said that sometimes she has to forgo being with friends in order to play softball.
"Sometimes I want to go to my friends' birthday parties but I can't because of tournaments and practice," O'Shell said.
Players also have to make sacrifices in the field.
"You have to play whenever you are tired," said O'Shell, who was about to play another game and said she was a little bit tired.
Another player who makes sacrifices to play softball is Madison Haislip, 11, of the Outlaws-White.
"I was practicing a lot," she said, referring to her preparation for the World Series.
Haislip also made another sacrifice to be on the tournament.
"My friend asked me to go on vacation with her but I couldn't," she said.
What kind of vacation? Disney World.
However, Haislip said it's all worth it.
"I'd rather be here helping my softball team win," she said.
• THE GAME AS TEACHER: The ball-playing experience teaches the girls much more than just the hit-and-run.
"It teaches them about improving, improving yourself," Kevin McLaughlin said. "It teaches them about if you work hard, you improve."
He also said playing softball teaches the girls sportsmanship and how to deal with a defeat.
"Sports help you deal with all those things," McLaughlin said.
Softball also teaches the girls discipline, Gina Peterson said.
"Better than be sitting on the couch and watching TV all day," she said.
O'Shell also said softball teaches sportsmanship and discipline.
"It teaches how to get along with each other," she said. "It teaches how to be a better player."
Playing softball is a good experience, O'Shell said.
"It's fun," she said. "I love softball."
• CHERRY PARK WINNING FANS: With softball fields in good shape, good landscaping and plenty of parking, Cherry Park has been praised by its visitors who came to watch the World Series.
"This is the best facility of South Carolina and North Carolina by far," Kevin McLaughlin said.
He said the park is very well landscaped with trees in between the softball fields protecting the crowd against the burning heat.
"You don't see that a lot," he said.
Plus, the park is "not too far from the city." So it's a great use of public funds, McLaughlin said.
Gina Peterson also said she likes Cherry Park and praised its clean bathrooms.
"We really enjoy this facility," she said. "It's a good place to play ball."