A combination of sweat, new and old friendships, and dedicated coaches put Prince William Little League girls softball and boys baseball into a new arena this summer.

The Dumfries-Triangle-Quantico Little League team for 13-year-old boys got farther than any Little League team in the state for that age group when it reached the Southern Regional Little League Championship two weeks ago in Florida. And it was the second year in a row that some of the players had made the southern regionals. Last year they went as 12-year-olds.

Prince William's all-star team of softball players, ages 16 to 18, was the first team in the county to go to the girls Little League southern regionals, which also were in Florida two weeks ago.

Although they lost their chance at the Little League World Series, the two teams' achievements leave them among the 16 best teams in their leagues in the country.

"We all know each other. We're a real team," said outfielder Mike Makowsky, 13, philosophizing on the success of his team. "You might even say we're more mature. If something goes wrong, we don't fall apart." Most of the boys went to Graham Park Middle School last year.

The same spirit prevailed among the girls team members, propelling them to Florida and keeping them togther even when they were getting trounced by a Tampa team.

"We started laughing about it to try to keep our spirits up and to finish the game," said center fielder Angie Bland, 16, whose father, Harvey, helped coach her team.

The coaches, on whom their players heap credit for their teams' accomplishments, point to their players' willingness to push hard and keep smiling.

"They're ready to work," said Mac Covington, coach of the boys team, watching from the dugout last week as the fall version of his team, which includes 14- and 15-year-olds, practiced throwing. That day, Covington arrived at practice at Potomac High School 20 minutes early to find his players already there, doing some running exercises.

But "very unusual," Covington explained, "I never heard one of them argue with one another." Also coaching the boys was Dan Raley.

Willie Lemay, head coach for the girls team, describes his players as "very serious, but very laid-back." Also helping him coach was Steve Blizzard.

Stocking the boys team are all-star players from six teams, which formed the Dumfries-Triangle-Quantico league this spring. Seven out of 14 were on the league's all-star 12-year-old team, which blazed the same path of victories in the Little League last year.

Last spring, the team members took the district, state and divisional titles. Only at the southern regionals were they stopped.

Giving the boys a leg up over their opponents last year and preparing them for this year was their coaches' decision to have them practice on a 90-foot field, rather than the 60-foot field that most 12-year-olds play on, according to Covington.

Now "they throw that ball across the diamond like it was nothing," said Prince William baseball and softball aficionado Ron Emmons.

When the 12-year-olds returned from the southern regionals last year, they immediately jumped into practice for the fall league.

"It's not that {the league} is so much greater than anyone else," Emmons said. "It's that their wagon is driven by dedication and hard work."

When the league's 13-year-old boys team reached the southern regionals this year, it had 12 wins and three losses. The players were defeated in the first game by a Texas team, 4-3, and in the second by a Kentucky team, 7-5.

"We made a lot of mental mistakes," said player Mike Colangelo. But instead of stewing over errors, Colangelo said, "I think everybody should have took it as: 'Look, we were three games away from the world series.' "

Next summer, the boys, who will be playing in the league for 14- and 15-year-olds, said they are counting on yet another shot at the world series.

Compared with the boys, the girls started out on shaky ground.

Girls Little League Softball was launched in the county by Lemay only about three years ago. Before, the Prince William Sports Club set up local teams that played just within the county.

"It's been a great boon to girls softball," said Stewart Christiano, who headed up the Sports Club teams. Little League "is an excellent opportunity for more competition, which is what it's all about."

Selected from the fast-pitch softball teams from Gar-Field, Woodbridge, Osbourn Park and Potomac high schools, the girls brought to the Little League team such skills as strong pitching and hitting, and some residual rivalry for their high school opponents.

Said pitcher Stephanie Hosier, now 19: "I hated all of you."

However, two-hour practices almost every day from June through the end of July pulled the team together. It remained undefeated through the six games in the state and divisional tournaments, placing it in the southern regionals.

In Florida, the players lost the first game to Georgia, 6-2, and the second to the Tampa team, 28-2.

"We lost, but now we know what it's all about," said Harvey Bland. "We're really, really going to try to get back there. We're just as good as any of those teams."

However, eight of the players will be too old to play in the league next season. But new players or not, Lemay said, Prince William girls Little League softball "is going to continue to grow."