Don’t blame Hernando County Majors coach and University of Alabama product Tim Sims for asking the bus driver to “Turn it up” this weekend.
Forty years ago, the Southern Rock band Lynard Skynyrd released one of its classic tunes on its second album, “Sweet Home Alabama.”
Sims, a Hernando High graduate, won’t mind hearing the tune after he boards a charter bus Friday headed to his “other home” beginning this weekend.
Sims’ Hernando County Majors (ages 17-19) Baseball All-Stars will be referred to as Team Florida in the 41st annual World Series, which runs Saturday though Wednesday at Eagle Stadium in Ozark, Ala.
“For me, it’s kinda like going home,” Sims said. “We’re looking forward to it.”
The field includes 12 teams in a double-elimination format.
Hernando High Hall-of-Famer Sims, who arrives with a Hernando County-record six state titles, last won this tournament in 2000.
He’s also attempting to make history becoming the first Hernando County skipper with two World Series crowns.
Six of the last 40 World Series champs are from the Sunshine State. Hernando County also captured this event in 1983, under Hall-of-Famer Ernie Chatman.
Since capturing a state title in Lakeland on July 17, Sims’ crew embarked on a five-day tourney — the 27-team, 17-Under Perfect Game Tournament in Fort Myers.
So far this summer, Sims has been particularly impressed by this group’s ability to pitch the baseball and pick the baseball.
“We’ve pitched the ball well and we’ve played real good defense,” Sims said. “Defensively, we’ve made the plays. Credit belongs to our shortstop Tanner Bammert. He’s one of the best-kept secrets around here.
“I can’t say enough about our two college kids coming back, Brooks Timmons and Brandon Lawson, and the job they’ve done. They’ve been great leaders.”
The 11 other teams in the tournament are Laurel Jones, Miss.; Monroe, La.; McNary, Tenn.; Pine Bluff, Ark.; Paris, Tx.; Auburn, Ala.; Columbia County, Ga.; Hope Mills, N.C.; North Charleston, S.C.; Goochland, Va.; and host Ozark, Ala.
The defending champion is West Georgia.
The Hernando Majors All-Stars include: INF Tanner Bammert, C/OF Colby Brown, P/1B David Flowers, P/INF Robby Frantzis, P/INF Trenton Gannt, P/INF Kyle Kilbourne, P/OF Brandon Lawson, OF Tyler Ledington, INF/P Bradley Platt, 3B/C Brooks Timmons, C/1B Austin Treverton, P/INF Brooks Wilson and OF/P Justin Young.
Brown, Frantzis, Gannt and Wilson hail from Polk County, but have helped round out a roster of the remaining Hernando County-based players.
Sims returns as skipper assisted by Jeff Laing, Lee Sullivan and Harry Timmons.
“Thanks to guys electing to play like Ledington, Young and Platt at the beginning of the summer when the college guys came back, our goal was to reach Ozark,” Sims said. “We’re going into Eagle Stadium with the expectations of playing well and completing a successful summer.”
Team Florida opens against host Ozark, Ala. at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Sims avoided any tourney predictions.
“During the summer, no one wants to go two and barbecue (two and out),” he said. “Want-to can beat talent.”
Eagle Stadium is one of the oldest and most well-kept Dixie ballparks, Sims.
“It’s an old Florida/Georgia facility that has hosted a few World Series in the past,” he said. “They’ve always done a great job; I expect no less this time.”
AT A GLANCE
WHAT: 41st Dixie Majors (ages 17-19) All-Stars World Series.
WHO: Twelve teams in a double-elimination format featuring: Hernando County; Laurel Jones, Miss.; Monroe, La.; McNary, Tenn.; Pine Bluff, Ark.; Paris, Tx.; Auburn, Ala.; Columbia County, Ga.; Hope Mills, N.C.; North Charleston, S.C.; Goochland, Va.; and host Ozark, Ala.
WHERE: Eagle Stadium at Ozark, Ala.
WHEN: Saturday-Wednesday (weather permitting).
Florida’s All-Time Majors World Series Champions
1983 Hernando County
1987 Avon Park
2000 Hernando County
2005 Polk County
2010 Polk County
Hernando Majors (ages 17-19) All-Stars
NO. NAME POSITION(S)
12 Bradley Platt* INF/P
13 Justin Young OF/P
18 Austin Treverton* C/1B
20 Tyler Ledington* OF
28 Brooks Timmons* 3B/C
29 Kyle Kilbourne* P/INF
42 Tanner Bammert* INF
43 Robby Frantzis* P/INF
45 David Flowers* P/1B
55 Brandon Lawson* P/OF
57 Colby Brown C/OF
58 Brooks Wilson P/INF
47 Trenton Gannt P/INF
* Denotes returning Pre-Majors or Majors All-Star
Head Coach – Tim Sims
Assistant Coach – Jeff Laing
Assistant Coach – Harry Timmons
Assistant Coach – Lee Sullivan
The Road to the World Series Florida Majors (ages 16-19)
State Tournament recap at Lakeland’s Tenoroc High School
07-12: Say Baseball 7, Hernando County 3
07-13: Hernando County 3, Spring Hill 2
Spring Hill 2, Say Baseball 0 (9 Innings)
07-14: Hernando County 8, Spring Hill 6
07-17: (Championship at Lakeland’s Lake Bonny Park)
Hernando County 4, Say Baseball 3 (8)