Four local youth teams have experienced a lot of success recently and are moving on to the next tournaments, starting today.
Columbus’ Babe Ruth league combined several internal leagues during the past few years. This year marks the first time one league has competed with the Columbus name. The result: Three teams advanced to regionals.
The 13-, 14- and 15-year-old teams are undefeated heading into the Babe Ruth Southeast Regionals. They start today.
Smiths Station’s 11-12-year-old Dixie Youth Major team won the state championship last week and will compete in the Dixie Youth World Series, which begins Saturday.
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The Babe Ruth 13-year-olds will play in Havelock, N.C., today at 4 p.m. against Virginia.
Columbus manager Mike Hall said his team is full of hitters.
“We’ve got a lot of hitters and a lot of heart,” he said. “We’re pretty much equal across the board. We work for our keep.”
Hall said that just about everyone can pitch if necessary.
Heading into the regional undefeated, Hall said his team is ready for the challenge.
“We’re looking for wins,” he said. “We’re looking for success for our children, to have a good time and, hopefully, the opportunity to win some ballgames.”
Eric Manibusan, Dylan Williams, Dominique Wade, Russel Forthofer, Jared Welch, Cody Tucker, Johnny Hollar, Trey Alexander, Jeffrey Oravic, Gavin Bledsoe, Austin Peeler, Austin Melendez, Jacob Bullard and Cole Parker are on the team.
Columbus’ Babe Ruth 14-year-old team plays Florida at 4 p.m. in the first round of its regional in Demopolis, Ala.
Columbus manager James Lawhon said the undefeated team has a deep pitching staff.
“I’ve been in baseball for a long time, and this is the best team I’ve had,” he said. “We’ve got a shot to go all the way.”
The team’s roster was not available.
David Bone’s 15-year-old team has players from several local schools, including Hardaway, Northside, Shaw and Harris County.
Bone will manage his diverse team in Matthews, N.C., where the regional starts today. They will play a team from north Florida at 4 p.m.
With several players from different schools, Bone anticipated some conflicts along the way, but he said he has seen a cohesive team.
“They’ve had great attitudes,” he said. “They’ve been very consistent.
“Some teams get owned by moments, but this team owns the moment, the big times. They rise to the challenge.”
Bone said his team consists of about eight high school varsity pitchers.
“I think we’ve got a decent shot,” he said. “We’ve got speed and power.”
The team’s roster was not available.
For the first time in its history, Smiths Station will send an 11-12-year-old team to the Dixie Youth World Series in Gonzalez, La.
The team will travel there Friday and play the host team, Gonzalez, Saturday night.
It all started with last year’s team breaking a streak of bad luck in the district tournament and making an appearance in the state tournament for the first time in more than 20 years. With a few returners from that squad, they returned to the state tournament and didn’t disappoint.
Smiths manager Jason Sinquefield’s team is 14-0 through three tournaments. Sinquefield said it has a lot to do with chemistry.
“We’re balanced all the way through,” he said. “We’ve got three real good pitchers, but one through 12 … it’s the chemistry of all 12 kids.
“We’ve had timely hitting. We’ve had blowouts and nine inning games, but both parts of the lineup have stepped up when they need to.”
Smiths Station Baptist Church is hosting a community send-off for the boys at 7 p.m. Thursday for anyone who wants to attend.
The members of the team are Ryan Lenhart, John Dunnivan, Tanner Belcher, Max Newton, Garrett Bottoms, Anthony Ward, Dalton Sinquefield, Brandon Smith, Devin Brown, Hunter Woodall, Garrett Barr and Timm McGonegle.