OKMULGEE, Oklahoma – Three Muscogee (Creek) girls with a love for softball are representing Oklahoma in the Little League World Series in North Carolina after winning the Southwest Regional Championship game in Waco, Texas.
Taylan Starr (shortstop) of Preston, Ailanee Hicks (first/third baseman) of Henryetta, and Shianne Dill (centerfield) of Oktaha will be part of the first team in history to represent the state at the Little League World Series.
Team Oklahoma’s roster is 80 percent Native American with players from the Muscogee (Creek), Choctaw, Cherokee and Kiowa tribal nations, making it the biggest demographic of Natives playing at the highest level of softball against all nationalities.
The team will fly out Sunday, Aug. 8 and play the first game of the pool on Aug. 11, which will be aired on ESPN+.
Currently, the three girls are taking donations to try to get the parents funded to travel with them to the Series.
According to parent of Taylan Starr, Erick Starr, the Little League would normally fund chaperones but would not fund them this year due to COVID.
The pandemic has presented other challenges for the girls. They have had to practice alone until the World Series to prevent contracting the disease. Parents claim they don’t want to risk losing the team’s spot.
Erick said the Muscogee Nation has been supportive and how National Council Representative James Jennings backed the team from the beginning.
The Muscogee Nation transported the team on the new charter bus to Waco and also funded 80 percent of the fuel.
River Spirit Casino donated a raffle basket with items including a night’s stay, $50 food voucher, and other small gifts. The Nation’s Reintegration program purchased advertisement from the team for their banner, which they put up at the Regional game and will take with them to Worlds.
Belinda Hicks, grandmother of Ailanee Hicks, commended the community and employees of the Muscogee Nation during this time.
“Creek Nation has been so supportive of the whole team and never asked who’s Creek and who’s not,” Hicks said.
Being part of the team required the girls to compete for their positions. A workout process was implemented to test the skills of the players to qualify for the national team.
To get to the regional game, the team played a season of 12 games that went undefeated.
The regional game was aired on ESPN+. In this televised game, each of the girls displayed their outstanding talent and sportsmanship.
“We were all pretty nervous at first but once we started to get the hang of things it all kind of clicked,” Taylan said.
Taylan’s highlighted play included her hitting triple RBI, which scored three runs for the team. Hicks hit the winning homerun in the regional championship and Dill played her position defensively the whole game.
The Little League World Series allows the girls to build their individual athletic profiles and opens the doors for different recruitment opportunities.
Those interested in donating to the team parents’ efforts, can be done at: https://gofund.me/73bc00ad or via paypal @chelseahutch with Attn: Team Oklahoma Mvskoke.