From 1995-2004, no Spring Hill Dixie Youth Baseball team ever ventured to a World Series.
Since 2005, the West Hernando County program has dispatched 10 teams to Dixie’s Field of Dreams.
Mike Sollazzo’s 2008 Senior Boys (age 14) came within four feet of a walk-off homer on their last swing of the bat before settling for the World Series runner-up trophy.
Spring Hill director Joe Abbadessa believes his current “O” Zone (ages 11-12) state champions could snap his league’s World Series drought.
Abbadessa’s 5-0 club departed Thursday in a motor caravan trekking toward this weekend’s 9th “O” Zone All-Stars World Series at the immaculate Lexington Sports Complex at Lexington, S.C.
The six-day, double-elimination formatted event features: Spring Hill; Dallas, N.C.; Lebanon American, Tenn.; Christiansburg, Va.; Pineville, La.; Midland, S.C.; Laurel Jones County, Miss.; Baldwin County, Ga.; Muscle Shoals, Ala.; Nashville, Ark.; Paris National, Texas and host Lexington.
Dallas is the defending World Series champion. The lone Sunshine State entry to ever win this age group was Sebring in 2010-11.
“We’re going to Lexington to win it,” said Abbadessa, who is entering his first-ever World Series. “This team was three years in the making. We’ve certainly put in the time. We’re treating this like a business trip.
“We realize we’re playing some of the best teams in the Southeast,” he added. “If we get beat, the other team deserves the credit, but I can guarantee you we will not beat ourselves. I really feel good about our team and our chances; we’re in a good place.”
Since capturing states three weeks ago at home at the Anderson Snow Sports Complex, Abbadessa’s club has turned up the heat on its defensive approach behind crisp 1½-2 hour practices.
“We’ll be playing on (much deeper) fields with 250-foot fences,” noted Abbadessa, a stickler on details. “We’re fortunate that our outfielders are one of our strengths. Those guys are exceptionally fast and can hunt out there.”
On the applying the lessons learned from states, “I thought we pitched well at states, but we could’ve pitched better,” insisted Abbadessa. “I thought we let too many runners on walks and hit by pitches for my taste. Our pitching needs to be crisper.”
Spring Hill will open at 5:45 p.m. Saturday against Georgia.
“It really doesn’t matter who we play,” detailed Abbadessa. “I’m expecting us to play good, clean baseball. When you look across at the teams, they’re all talented and they’re all travel-ball associated. To me, this will be hard-fought baseball.
“The keys for us? We’re not downplaying the World Series,” pointed out Abbadesa. “We’ve got to take it one pitch at a time and one inning at a time. We’d love nothing more than to be the first Spring Hill team to win this.”
At a Glance
What – 9th Dixie Baseball “O” Zone (ages 11-12) All-Stars World Series.
Who – Twelve teams in a double-elimination format featuring: Spring Hill; Dallas, N.C.; Lebanon American, Tenn.; Christiansburg, Va.; Pineville, La.; Midland, S.C.; Laurel Jones County, Miss.; Baldwin County, Ga.; Muscle Shoals, Ala.; Nashville, Ark.; Paris National, Texas and host Lexington, S.C. Defending champion is Dallas.
Where – Lexington Sports Complex at Lexington, S.C.
When – Saturday through Thursday (weather permitting).
At Stake – World Series championship.
2014 Spring Hill American “O” Zone (ages 11-12) All-Stars
NO. PLAYER POSITION(S)
1 Chase Davis* 2B
2 David Abbadessa LF/2B
3 Logan Blevens SS/C/CF
5 Dylan Najuch 3B/P/OF
7 Zeth Rodriguez* CF/P/INF
10 Jake Rice C/1B
13 Jaden Rivera 3B/P
15 Johnathan McMath 1B/P/OF
21 Dominiq Collura SS/P
23 Jason Bienstock OF/INF/P
28 Ryan Ebberup* P/C/OF
42 Luis Ortiz C/P/INF
* Denotes returning AAA Minors All-Star.
Head Coach – Joe Abbadessa
Assistant Coach – Al Blevens
Assistant Coach – Jason Molka
The Road to the World Series
9th annual Dixie Baseball O-Zone AAA Majors (ages 11-12) State Tournament
Recap at Spring Hill’s Anderson Sports Complex
Spring Hill American 9, West Volusia 1
Spring Hill American 10, Spring Hill National 4
Spring Hill American 17, West Seminole 0 (2½ Innings)
Spring Hill American 10, Lake Placid 7
Spring Hill American 8, West Seminole 4