SYAA All-Stars see one more tourney

Published 9:44 pm Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Members of the 2012 SYAA 10U Mustang National All-Star Team include: clockwise from bottom left, coach David Hassell, Jack Mcghee, Caleb Hassell, Cullen Griffin, Carlin Walden (holding sign), Hunter Mitchell (behind Walden), assistant coach Boo Mcghee, Colby Williams, Hayden Riddick (sunglasses), Noah Honeycutt, Jacolby Boyd, Dalton McConnell, Trent Hobbs, head coach Jonathan Hobbs and Jed Davies.

By Titus Mohler

The SYAA 10U Nationals All-Star team laid claim to the South Region District Tournament Championship on July 7 and has compiled a 10-4 record leading into its final tourney this weekend.

The All-Star team’s roster is made up of coach’s selections from the five 10U SYAA rec teams. Players have been competing together as a team only since the beginning of June. Many of them played overlapping positions on their individual teams, where they had been the principal stars.

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This meant learning new positions and proving that they could play them. Head Coach Jonathan Hobbs is pleased with their efforts.

“They earned their spots,” he said. “They knew — I explained to them from day one — that this wasn’t like normal rec ball. This was the all-star team. They had to earn their positions on the field and all 12 of them worked hard to get playing time.”

In the first game of the district tourney, the Nationals faced Southampton/Sussex. The game proved to be a thriller that went down to the wire, with Suffolk trailing 10-9 in the bottom of the sixth and final inning. But Dalton McConnell got a hit and brought Colby Williams home for an 11-10 victory. Particularly strong was Carlin Walden, going 4-for-4 at bat, and Cullen Griffin who went 3-for-4.

Next, the Holland All-Stars were victims of a complete rout by the Nationals with Jacolby Boyd leading the way on the mound. Trent Hobbs and Caleb Hassell went 3-for-3 at the plate, and Hunter Mitchell was 3-for-4 in the 19-9 Suffolk victory.

Game three pitted the Nationals against the Windsor All-Stars, and the margin of victory echoed the previous game. This time, Noah Honeycutt and Mitchell split pitching duties, while Walden, Hobbs, and Hayden Riddick all went 2-for-3 at bat. The final score was 14-4.

The championship game brought symmetry to the Nationals’ district tournament experience: They would again face Southampton/Sussex. Their resilient opponent had fought its way through the losers’ bracket and would now have to defeat the Nationals twice in a doubleheader to claim the title. Suffolk needed only to win once.

The Nationals’ Jack Mcghee went 2-for-3 from the plate during the first game, but nothing else went right for Suffolk. They fell 14-3, forcing a second game.

Like the first game of the tourney, this too, was a thriller. Unlike that game, though, the Nationals batted in the top half of the innings. They carried an 8-6 lead into the bottom of the sixth, meaning their defense would have to win the championship.

Suffolk looked to be in dire straits, with two Southampton/Sussex runners on and no outs in the bottom of the sixth inning. However, this was the moment when centerfielder Jed Davies turned a double play. Not long after that, a pop fly floated into the waiting glove of Jacolby Boyd, and the championship was secured.

Winning the district tourney qualified the Nationals for the next higher level, sectionals, in Kempsville, but the result there was not as favorable for the local team.

“We played in the sectional tournament, and we ended up losing to Western Branch, 7-4, and got knocked out of that tournament,” Hobbs said.

Nevertheless, they did not go without a fight, finishing with a 2-2 record in the double-elimination event.

The Nationals will play this weekend in the last USSSA Tournament of the 2012 season.

“The reason we’re playing in this extra tournament is ‘cause of all the generous donations from the local Suffolk sponsors,” Hobbs said. “We greatly appreciate that.”

The tourney runs this Saturday through Sunday at Princess Anne Park.