Windsor/Holland Hurricanes win state title

Published 10:00 am Friday, July 5, 2024

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The teamwork of 7- and 8-year-old baseball players from two small communities in the area led to a vintage performance in the Pony Baseball East Zone Pinto 8U State Tournament that culminated in a dominant state championship win for the Windsor/Holland Hurricanes.

Jeff Leckrone, head coach of the Windsor/Holland Hurricanes 8U All-Star Team, explained how the team came to be.

“Windsor had their district all-star team that they put together; they pull all their kids out that they want on their team,” he said. “And then during the season, I talked with a few of their coaches to try to pull some Holland kids into an all-star team, because I had a few kids that I felt like had the ability to play on an all-star team, and their commissioner over there got with me and said, ‘Yeah, we absolutely have some kids we can put together. If we can pull about eight kids from Windsor and your four from Holland, we can put together a team.’ So that’s what we ended up doing.

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“So it’s a group of kids from two small communities — the small community of Windsor and the small community of Holland in Suffolk,” he said.

Leckrone coached in Holland during the regular season.

He noted that the Windsor/Holland Hurricanes 8U All-Star Team has been together for about a month. 

The eight-team 2024 Pony Baseball East Zone Pinto 8U Virginia State Tournament took place at the Suffolk Youth Athletic Association complex from Friday-Sunday, June 21-23.

“The weekend before this tournament, we actually played in a warm-up tournament at SYAA, and we had a couple scrimmage games, and (with) the team coming from two different associations, both Holland and Windsor, getting the kids to click didn’t work too well at first,” Leckrone said. “So in our scrimmages, in our first tournament, we hadn’t done too well. We had lost every game. 

“So coming into the (state) tournament, trying to stay positive with the kids and make sure that they knew that they could compete with these teams was kind of our key message to them,” he continued. 

The state tourney opened with three games of pool play; the eight teams were evenly divided into two pools. The Hurricanes faced Chesterfield National on June 21 and fell 15-5.

“With the loss on Friday night, Saturday morning we told (our players) to make sure that that was a new day, and something clicked on Saturday with the team, and they all started coming together,” Leckrone said. “They were talking to each other, picking each other up when something went wrong, and ultimately that’s what I think brought them together is the kids really started to buy into each other and started working together. And once they clicked, it was like a whole different team was out there on the field for Saturday and Sunday in that tournament.”

Leckrone explained that the top two teams in each pool advanced to the semifinals, and the Hurricanes climbed to the No. 2 seed in their pool by defeating the SYAA Surge 21-10 and by topping the Great Neck All-Stars 23-14 on June 22.

On June 23, Windsor/Holland faced the Kempsville All-Stars in the semifinals and routed them 11-1.

In the state championship game, the Hurricanes faced their original opponent in the tourney, Chesterfield National, and definitively avenged their prior loss by recording a 10-0 mercy-rule-abbreviated victory. 

The Windsor/Holland Hurricanes benefited throughout the tournament from a variety of individual standouts.

“You don’t really hear of necessarily an 8-year-old hitting a home run over a fence,” Leckrone said. “Well, I had one kid named Cooper Berland, (and) in our Great Neck game, he actually hit an over-the-fence grand slam.”

Across the Hurricanes’ five games in the tourney, Berland, who is from Holland, went 13-for-15 at the plate and recorded 15 total RBIs.

“He was definitely one of our big hitters, and he was our clean-up hitter the whole time,” Leckrone said. “Him and Levi Marshall in the middle of the lineup definitely held it down, along with Brentley Ethridge.”

The coach said that Rylan Dymond and Ethridge had eight RBIs each, and Jeffrey Leckrone and Marshall had seven apiece, solidifying the middle of Windsor/Holland’s lineup.

Riley Graves knocked in the two runs in the championship game that concluded the contest.

“In the four games we won in the tournament, we scored 65 runs, which is a massive amount,” Coach Leckrone said.

The championship win marked a triumphant end to the season for the Windsor/Holland Hurricanes 8U All-Star Team.