Three teams from Coffee County, Alabama made the trek up to Tuscaloosa, Ala. to participate in the Dixie Youth Baseball Division II State Tournament, which began Friday, July 12, and was held at the Bowers Sports Complex.
The three teams – Kinston 8U, Coffee County 10U [consisting of players from Elba and New Brockton], and Zion Chapel Ozone – each respectively had won their District tournaments in June to qualify for the Division II state tourney. After a few weeks of additional practices and preparations, the team members, coaches, families and fans headed to T-town to compete for the state title in the three different age divisions.
The opening ceremonies for the state tournament were held Friday morning, July 12, and the first pitch to start the multitude of games was at 1 p.m. that afternoon. All three teams each played one game on Friday.
The Kinston 8U team faced Beauregard to open tourney play and came out on top 13-4. Kinston jumped on top early and never looked back in this win.
The Coffee County 10U team opened tourney play against South Bibb, and, in a game that was much closer than the final score indicated, Coffee County lost 20-8. However, Coffee County and South Bibb were tied for the majority of the game before South Bibb took complete control in the final two innings.
The Zion Chapel Ozone team also opened tourney play with a 7-2 victory over Lamar County on Friday.
The Saturday, July 13, games started with Coffee County facing Fayette in a must-win situation, and the players from Elba and New Brockton did just that as they kept plugging to pull out a 6-1 victory to remain alive in the tourney.
A Saturday afternoon matchup with Phil Campbell, however, ended Coffee County’s bid for the state title. Phil Campbell knocked Coffee County out of the 10U tournament with a 12-4 win.
“The future is bright for every single one of these fine young men,” said Greg Hanchey, Elba Parks and Recreation director regarding the Coffee County team. “I am extremely proud of this team and what they have accomplished this year. They will forever be remembered as one of the inaugural teams to participate in the Dixie Youth Division II State Tournament.
The Kinston 8U team continued its bid for the state title with an 11 a.m. game on Saturday morning, but uncharacteristic errors caused these young players to hit a bump in the road against a solid Haleyville team. Kinston suffered its first loss of the tourney in an 11-4 loss to Haleyville.
The loss to Haleyville forced Kinston into a must-win spot as it faced Abbeville Saturday afternoon, and the young Bulldogs came to this game ready to jump back in the win column. Kinston seemed to have overcome its early woes from the morning and left no doubt in a 14-9 win.
The young Kinston players played their third game of the day on Saturday when it faced South Bibb in an early evening showdown. However, South Bibb, the eventual 8U tournament winner, proved to be too much for the Bulldogs and ended the highly successful season for Kinston in a 12-2 decision.
Kinston did manage to score two runs on South Bibb in the game, which is something no other team South Bibb faced was able to do.
“Our only losses at state came to the tourney winner and runner-up,” said Kinston 8U coach Andy Sanders. “That is definitely something for us to take consolation in, and our boys got two wins at the state level. I am beyond proud of them for that!”
He continued, “First of all, we always give glory to God for giving us the ability to play the game. I have been extremely proud of these young guys for the hard work and dedication that not only led to an undefeated regular season and district tournament, but also for their focus and determination to get ready to play at state.”
The Zion Chapel Ozone team played an 11 a.m. game against Lexington on Saturday morning. This was a back-and-forth game that remained close throughout the contest, but a late rally by Zion Chapel fell just short. The Rebels were handed their first loss of the tournament in a 14-12 win by Lexington.
On Sunday afternoon, Zion Chapel faced Central in a must-win game to stay alive in the tournament. Unfortunately, Zion Chapel just could not keep the bats going against Central after scoring a couple of early runs, and Central knocked the Rebels out of the tournament in a 5-2 decision.
“I was very pleased with the way our kids competed all weekend,” said Zion Chapel Coach Dustin Stinson. “We did not play as fundamentally sound as we did throughout our district tournament, but our guys battled every game. This has been a special year with an awesome group of players, coaches, and parents that I believe represented the Zion Chapel community well.