Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

SYLVESTER -- Bring on the buffet.

That's the idea at Worth County, where one of the best softball teams in the state would like nothing better than to have a feast at the end of the season.

Confused?

Don't be. It all goes back to two years ago when the Lady Rams lost a 4-3 heartbreaker in the Elite Eight round of the state playoffs. They were the first -- and only team from Region 1-AAA -- to ever reach the eight-team finals in Columbus and had dreams of winning a state title.

That one-run loss to Columbus still hurts.

"Yeah, we cried hard that day,'' said second baseman Lauren Potts.

"Really hard,'' added first baseman Kimmy Lee.

Both are juniors on this year's team, and they have both been playing softball with the Ellis twins, Haley and Heather, since they were 8 years old. The twins can't forget that loss to Columbus, either.

"We were so mad when we lost we couldn't even eat that day,'' Heather said.

That's where the feast comes in, because now the four juniors help lead what could be the best softball team in Worth history, a team good enough, deep enough and (pardon the obvious pun) hungry enough to win it all.

"We've been eating pretty good lately,'' said Haley, an all-state catcher.

Indeed.

The 2010 version of the Lady Rams is 19-2 and has not lost to another Class AAA team all season. They're 4-0 in the region race with two games left, and if they beat Crisp on Thursday, they will play host to the Region 1-AAA tournament with hopes of making a run at the state title.

"If we win the state title, we'll eat even better,'' Heather said. "It will have to be a buffet.''

The way these kids play defense, someone might want to call the caterer. Worth has already beaten Columbus in a kickoff tournament in August and has been playing with confidence, despite not having a flame-thrower on the mound in a game that is ruled by pitching.

"When we beat Columbus (in the kickoff tournament final), the talk of the tournament was how we won and we didn't have a dominant pitcher,'' Worth coach Russell Beard said. "We don't have one."

"We pitch by committee. We have three pitchers who throw the ball well and hit their spots, and they go in a rotation, 1-2-3,'' he said, referring to Morgan Bell, Kelly Weaver and Potts. "We don't have that girl who can throw 60 (mph).''

So how can Worth win without a dominant pitcher?

"Because our infield is dominant,'' said Lee with emphasis.

Heather Ellis, who plays shortstop, chipped in: "It's beastly!''

And Potts, who plays second, added: "It's Jam-up!''

Beard translated: "I don't think there's a better defensive team in the state.''

The foursome has been together so long they can read each other's minds on the field.

"We don't just make (shortstop-to-second-to-first) double plays, everyone makes double plays on this team,'' said Lee, who plays first, second or third base, depending on who is pitching. "We have been together so long that we know everything about each other and what everyone will do.''

Bell (7-0, 2.69 ERA) plays third when she isn't pitching, and Weaver (6-1, 1.93 ERA) fills in at first when Potts (5-1, 2.94 ERA) pitches while Lee goes to second.

The foursome not only started playing together for the Orange Crush traveling team when they were 8, but when they were eighth graders, Beard put them on his junior varsity team.

"We were at a JV tournament, and all these coaches were asking me why I was playing my varsity players on the JV team,'' Beard said. "I told them they were only in eighth grade, and they all said those four could start for anyone's varsity.''

Lee can fly and is the consummate leadoff hitter. She's batting .500 for the season, has stolen 11 bases without being caught and has scored a team-leading 36 runs. Potts, who started playing when she was 7 because her mother was a fine softball player, hits in the fifth spot.

She has one homer and has driven in 19 runs while batting a whopping .453 for the season.

It's impossible not to notice the Ellis twins. Remember the Bash Brothers at Oakland when Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco were belting homers for Tony La Russa? Well, they weren't brothers and it turns out those homers were nothing more than steroid induced shots.

The Ellis Bash Sisters are really sisters -- identical twins -- whose power comes from hard work, dedication and a love for the game they got growing up in traveling leagues and playing their hearts out year-round.

They're the heart of Worth's batting order. Haley, who hits third, has belted eight homers and driven in 43 runs this year, and is hitting .594. Heather, the cleanup hitter, has six homers, 19 RBI and is hitting .566.

They have gone back-to-back three times this season, including a game against Monroe in which Haley hit two grand slams and drove in 14 runs.

"When she hits a home run, I can't let her out-do me,'' Heather said.

It's that competitive.

"When I come in after a home run and there's that big get together at the plate, she (Heather) is always saying. Don't go away for long, you're going to be right back here when I hit my home run,'' Haley said.''

They may be twins, but it's hard to imagine any two girls who are more independent. Heather likes Florida State, Haley loves Alabama. Heather drives a 1999 Volkswagen Beetle while Haley drives a 1998 BMW.

"Yeah, but my BMW cost $2,000 less than her car,'' said Haley, making her point.

They're competitive about just about everything, a drive that makes them both successful on the softball field.

"We play everything at home.'' Haley said. "We're competitive in everything from whiffleball to playing baseball with a beach ball. It doesn't matter. And video games can be pretty intense.''

Forget about the two dressing the same. They refuse to even wear their hair the same way, and Haley would never wear a headband, because Heather wears one.

"I could never wear my hair in a pony tail,'' said Haley, pointing to Heather's hair.

They had to dress the same when they were younger.

"We had matching outfits with matching bows in our hair,'' Heather said. "So now we never dress the same.''

Their Worth uniforms match, and that's just fine with everyone. And the twins admitted that winning a state title together would mean even more because they're sisters. It means so much to everyone at Worth.

"We've been through so much together,'' Potts said. "It's all about blood, sweat and tears. We've done it all together.''

It could happen.

"We had a great team the year we went to the Elite Eight,'' Beard said. "But I would take this team over our Elite Eight team. Our pitching is a little stronger, and our hitting and defense is a lot stronger.''

The Lady Rams can hit 1-through-9 in the lineup from Lee and Bell at the top of the order to the clutch kids at the other end of it. Kaitlyn Parton (LF), Brittany Cornell (CF), Faith Jones (RF) along with Weaver have come through all year.

"In all the games we have come back this year, and there have been a few, the bottom of our order has come through to get on base and score to bring us back,'' Beard said. "Everyone has been coming through.''

That's the idea. Everyone at Worth thinks this could be the year.