It’s been 31 long summers since a Florida team solved Dixie Baseball’s Senior Boys (age 14) All-Stars World Series.
A team from Brent last captured a World Series crown in 1983. Before that, Myrtle Grove captured this age division in 1963-64.
Spring Hill, aka Team Florida, would like nothing better than put an end to the inglorious streak beginning Saturday during the opening round of the 52nd annual World Series in Bossier City, La.
The field includes 12 teams in a double-elimination format: Spring Hill; Dallas, N.C.; Dyersburg, Tenn.; Halifax County, Va.; Monroe, La.; Hilton Head, S.C.; Hattiesburg, Miss.; Troup County, Ga.; Spanish Fort, Ala.; Sevier, Ark.; Center, Texas.; and host Bossier City.
Since his team rallied to finish 6-1 at the City of Sebring’s Max Long Complex at states two weeks ago, Spring Hill mentor Mike Rado says he’s spent more time deflecting criticism from area parents.
“Since states, I’ve had to deal with parent’s issues and really we’ve spent most of the time fundraising to go to Louisiana,” identified Coach Rado. “In the few practices we’ve had since states they went real well.”
Looking ahead, “Our kids know what we need to do,” insists Rado. “We’ve got to tighten up, especially on defense. We’ve got to concentrate on making one play at a time. Even with all the criticism, these guys in this dugout have each other’s backs.”
The team’s No. 9 hitter, Michael Ebberup, was the team’s leading hitter in Highlands County hitting a robust .692.
Dalton Mosser (.526), J.P. Gates (.522) and John Oliveira (.435) were right behind Ebberup.
Zach Funkhouser finished with a .318 average following a clutch 4-for-4 effort in the title game against Sebring.
On the bump, southpaw Gates notched 22 strikeouts in 11 innings while clouting three homers.
Vastano earned two mound wins allowing three earned runs across five innings while Oliveira fanned 10 across eight innings of action.
Spring Hill will open play Saturday at 4 p.m. against Monroe.
With a win, Spring Hill will most likely cross paths with the defending the World Series champs from Hattiesburg.
“We don’t know anything about them except Louisiana typically fields tough teams,” noted Rado. “Honestly, we’re kind of going into this blindfolded. I think a lot of teams will be pretty equal; it’ll all come down to executing on the little things to win games.”
On Spring Hill’s title chances, “We could win it all. This group seems to focus better with the controversy from the stands,” said Rado. “I know this is the first World Series for a lot of our guys, but we’ve got a lot of travel ball kids that are used to the environment in Louisiana.
“For us to win? We need to keep the noise down from the stands. Let’s play drama-free,” stressed Rado. “And it boils down to playing the game the right way and having a little bit of luck go our way.”
At a Glance
What – 52nd Dixie Senior Boys (age 14) All-Stars World Series.
Who – Twelve teams in a double-elimination format featuring: Spring Hill; Dallas, N.C.; Dyersburg, Tenn.; Halifax County, Va.; Monroe, La.; Hilton Head, S.C.; Hattiesburg, Miss.; Troup County, Ga.; Spanish Fort, Ala.; Sevier, Ark.; Center, Texas; and host Bossier City, La. Defending champion is Hattiesburg, Miss.
Where – Tinsley Athletic Complex at Bossier City, La.
When – Saturday through Wednesday (weather permitting).
At Stake – World Series championship.
2014 Spring Hill Senior Boys (age 14) All-Stars
NO. NAME POSITIONS
2 Dalton Mosser* SS/P
4 Michael Ebberup Jr.* 2B/P
9 Ryan Betz C/CF
15 John Oliveira* 3B/P
16 Nick Vastano LF/P
18 Brennan Cross LF/2B/P
21 John P. “JP” Gates* P/CF
25 Zachary Funkhouser* RF/P
27 Domenick Rado* 1B/LF
30 Reagan Chapman* P/1B
38 Dakota Blevens* C/P
42 John Moran 2B/C
44 Max Glenn C/P
* Returning All-Star.
Head coach – Mike Rado
Assistant coach – Patrick Freeman
Assistant coach – Will Glenn
Assistant coach – Randy Mosser