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Front left to right: Shane Shuler, Brandon Stewart, Jeremy Ellenburg, Nathan Lowe, Joe Holbrooks, Steven Smith, Lucas Grasty. Back: Mitchell Whitner, Michael Jennings, Kevin Watts, Coach Brody Montague. Not pictured: Rodney Riddle.Franklin resident named World Series MVP

The local mens softball team, Benny and the Jets, won the World Series for division ‘D’ of the ISA (Independent Softball Association) last weekend in Aikens, SC.

Benny and the Jets competed against 38 teams ranging from areas such as Tennessee, Maryland, North Carolina, Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia.

“It was such a great experience, and great to see all of our hard work finally pay off,” said Nathan Lowe, third baseman for the team. “We won the first six games we played before we received our first and only loss of the weekend. After that we regrouped and wanted to work even harder to win the championship game, which we won 18- 6.” Lowe, who works at Fastenal in Franklin, said some people work for years to win the world series. “We have one player who has been trying for 11 years to win the title, I am really glad I got to be a part of him finally winning it,” said Lowe.

The 12 member softball team is comprised of players from Franklin, Sylva and Waynesville, and is the result of a merger of the two teams, Benny and the Jets and Souther Impact. After qualifying for the World Series earlier this summer in a weekend tournament in Cherokee, Benny and the Jets finished 7-1 in the World Series.

Joe Holbrooks of Franklin helped the team rally victory after victory as the team’s catcher. Holbrooks’ impressive agility not only helped his team win the World Series, but he was recognized by the ISA as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the tournament. “It was a great honor to be the MVP of the 2011 World Series,” said Holbrooks. “I could not have achieved MVP without the excellent play of the entire team, it is very unfortunate that we couldn’t all be named MVP.”

Sylva native, Brody Montague, served at the team’s coach and gave them the direction and motivation needed to win the title. Waynesville native and WCU alumni, Lucas Grasty, used the experience he gained on the collegiate level at Montreat to outplay opponents. The team’s sponser, Rodney Ritter of RRR Properties in Sylva, provided the team with the support needed to do well in the the tournament. “Rodney has been great in supporting the team, and we are thankful to have been able to represent him and his business in the World Series,” said Lowe.

The wide range of teams in the Series proved to be difficult for the team and required players from Benny and the Jets to quickly adjust their strategy to match up with each team. “The competition was very tough, we came out and executed very well, fortunately we were able to come out champions of the 2011 ISA World Series,” said Holbrooks.

The ISA was founded in 1984 in Shelbyville, Tennessee, by Larry Nash. It is one of the four major governing bodies of amateur softball in America, along with ASA, NSA and USSSA. While other major softball associations are experiencing declines in adult team registration, the ISA is experiencing exceptional growth.

The ISA organizes, sanctions and governs competitive participation in various formats and classifications through softball leagues and tournament play. ISA’s popularity has grown steadily throughout its 27 year history, with current registrations in excess of 18,000 teams, 4,000 umpires and a network in excess of 350 directors.


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