The July 12-14 tournament saw a field of 30 teams representing the best in the state of Illinois.
Express started the tournament on Friday by defeating the Shelbeyville Lady Storm with a score of 8-0.
In Friday’s second game, Express defeated the Bloomington-Normal 16U Angels in a 10-inning contest, plating the go-ahead run in the bottom of the 10th to defeat the Angels with a score 6-5.
Advancing in the winner’s bracket into Saturday play, Express faced the Bloomington-Normal 15U Angels squad, winning 3-2 in a seven-inning complete game.
In their second game Saturday, Express took on the Illinois Force in a downstate rivalry. Express took the early lead with a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth, with the Force plating a tie run in the bottom of the fifth, Both teams failed to score in the sixth inning, forcing the game into extra innings.
Express failed to score in the first round of international tiebreaker play. The Force plated a run in the bottom of the seventh to win the game.
The loss Saturday sent Express into the bottom half of the bracket for Sunday play to again face the Bloomington-Normal 15U squad. Express defeated the Angels 6-0.
With the win, Express advanced to play the Bloomington-Normal 16U squad again.
Express fell behind early in the game 2-3 but tied in the top of the fifth to force extra innings as time expired. Express plated three runs in the top of the seventh and then held off a run by the Angels in the bottom of the seventh to win 6-5.
With three teams left in the tournament, Express advanced to their third back-to-back game of the day on Sunday against the Brighton Flames.
The Flames jumped out to an early lead, and although Express fought their way back, they couldn’t quite come up with the runs.
Express fell to the Flames 5-8 to capture the third place title. Express finished the tournament with a record of five wins and two losses.
“These girls are such a hardworking group of young ladies,” said head coach Theron Rushing. “They never give up, and I am extremely proud of the team and all they have accomplished this season.”
The finish marks the third time the squad has made the run at the state tournament.
Southern Express previously captured the state championship in 2009 and 2011.
Southern Express is coached by Theron Rushing, Michele Rushing, Troy Smith and Denny Moon.