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Rain forces Belles inside

The Dixie Belles Tournament team moved inside Monday night to start practice for their two state tournaments.

The Belles will play in the Alabama Recreation and Parks Association state tournament July 11-12 and in the Dixie Belles state tournament beginning July 18. Both tournaments will be in Troy.

Even though the girls will be very familiar with the Sportsplex fields on which the tournaments will be played, Monday night they were inside the Elm Street gym.

"We're trying to keep them active," said coach Mark Kilpatrick.

The tropical storm in the Gulf of Mexico sent rain storms and clouds all over the Southeast, forcing the teams to cancel games or work on practice sessions inside.

Troy catcher Eden Harris, of Pike Liberal Arts School, had to try to catch inside the barely lit facility while wearing all the catcher's equipment.

"It's a little bit different," she said.

Harris is in her sixth year of playing softball and her fourth or fifth (she was not certain) year of playing on an all-star team. When she's not playing catcher, she is helping out the infield as a shortstop.

Catchers were not the only players experiencing difficulties inside the gymnasium Monday.

Eden Stamey, an outfielder and first baseman from Charles Henderson, also said she had to adjust to the gymnasium setting.

"It's not much fun in here," she said. "It's a lot better out on the field."

Stamey is in her second all-star season, but she has been participating in softball since she was 9.

Although the tournament team consists of players from several schools in the area (seven from Charles Henderson, three from Pike Lib and two from Goshen), Stamey said she was not worried about playing with new teammates.

"I do it every year," she said.

The girls may want to get used to practicing inside, because forecasts call for rain all week.

The members of the Dixie Belles tournament team are, Heather Snell, Whitney Johnson, Brooke Sessions, Autumn Welch, Eden Harris, Whitney Merritt, Heather West, Meghan Johnson, Emily Gilbert, Lindsey Garner, Shuntrice Raybun and Eden Stamey.