After successful fundraiser, DC softball team heading to Little League World Series regional tournament

For the last few years, players on the Mamie “Peanut” Johnson Little League softball team have been watching the Little League World Series on TV.

They described how they hoped to one day make it there, and coach Keith Barnes told them that they could. The first step in that goal was winning the DC1 State Championship, so they could compete in a televised game and connect with players from different states.

The group of girls, who Barnes said are mostly from D.C.’s Wards 7 and 8, did just that this year. But they were unsure whether they’d be able to compete at a regional tournament because of the cost involved.

However, after a successful GoFundMe fundraising campaign, Barnes said the team is planning to compete in the tournament later this month. Their efforts raised over $23,000, exceeding the $20,000 goal. Monumental Sports and Entertainment CEO Ted Leonsis contributed $2,500, according to the fundraising page.

“When we play in a couple of tournaments, most of the time we’re the only African American team there,” Barnes said. “You may see one or two girls playing on different teams, but it’s mostly non-girls of color playing. I think this would give the opportunity for more girls to basically see us play and hopefully get more interested in playing the sport.”

The softball program started in 2021, and, at the time, most of the players were new to the sport. But the team has bonded and grown and, in just three years, secured a spot in the 2024 Little League World Series Mid-Atlantic Region Tournament.

Most of the money, Barnes said, will be used for transportation. The bus for the trip is expected to cost $10,000, he said. The rest will be used for food and equipment.

The team will visit ESPN’s headquarters in Bristol, Connecticut, and meet teams from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

“They all stay in a dorm-type living area, where they interact with the girls from these different states,” Barnes said. “They do things like exchange pins. It’s a very good experience for these girls.”

The tournament is scheduled for July 21-26 and will be broadcast on ESPN+. The team will be competing for the chance to play in the Little League World Series.

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Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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