It was the top of the last inning, and the Dumfries-Triangle-Quantico All-Stars were trailing their West Virginia opponents 4-3.

The week before, the All-Stars had won the Virginia state championship in the senior league (ages 13 to 15) of Little League Girls' Softball. Now they were were vying for the divisional crown and, they hoped, a shot at the regional World Series pennants.

With the bases loaded and one out, the All-Stars' Beth Haizlip, a better than .500 hitter, stepped up to the plate.

Crack! Haizlip lined a drive down the third base line, but she didn't even reach first base. "When I heard the ball hit the glove," she said, "I knew I was out."

"It was a great shot," said All-Stars' Coach Ron Bryan, "and a great catch. If the ball had gotten past the third baseman, it would have easily been a double."

Tracy McGinnis was next at bat for the the All-Stars. On third stood Princess Brent, the All-Stars' fastest runner, who captured the Virginia State base running crown this year.

For the All-Stars, it was now or never.

The West Virginia pitcher fired a fast ball. McGinnis connected. The All-Stars had another line drive to third.

But as Brent began dashing home, a loud smack echoed through the ballpark. The West Virginia third baseman had ended the All-Stars hopes.

Bryan made no apologies for his team.

"We were down 4 to 1 at the start of the final inning, but the team wouldn't give up," he said. "It was really a great defensive game. We were very proud. We won and lost together as a team. The girls gave a hundred percent, and that's all you can ask."

The double-elimination tournament in Greenville, S.C., last week pitted state girls' softball champions from Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

In its first game, the Virginia team defeated South Carolina 10-0. The next day, the team lost 18-7 to North Carolina, rested half an hour, and played the West Virginia team.

North Carolina won the division championship and went on to St. Petersburg, Fla., for regional playoffs. Regional winners will advance later this month to the Little League Softball World Series in Kalamazoo, Mich.

For several Virginia All-Stars, such as Brent, McGinnis and 15-year-old Kelly Fisher, this year was their last chance at a World Series berth.

"I made the first out of the (last) inning," Fisher said. "I felt terrible, but I still had faith in the team."

But for catcher-pitcher Brenda Owens, who hit a home run in the the state playoffs, and teammate Missie Caddigan, another better than .500 hitter, there is another chance for a World Series Championship.

"Last year, we lost in the state," Bryan said. "This year, the division; next year, we hope to go the World Series. We have several players coming back, and if they are chosen again to play on the all-star team, we will work hard to improve upon this year's efforts."

The Dumfries team had won the state championship by defeating Yorktown 10-6, Richlands 11-3 and Mechanicsville 4-2, giving Northern Virginia its first state title.

When they returned home from the state tournament, they were given a police escort to Town Hall, where they were greeted by Dumfries' mayor and given a special celebration. The community then raised more than $2,000 to send the team to Greenville.

Now that the pressure is off, the team is ready for a little rest.

"The girls have been playing ball since March," Bryan said, "and we're all a little tired. It's nice to come home."