Thursday, Nov 27, 2014

Dixie Baseball

Hernando Today correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 04:39 PM

Hernando County's lone entry in the 16-team Dixie Baseball AA Rookies (ages 7-8) All-Stars Pitching Machine State Tournament – Spring Hill National – was packing for home Tuesday morning.

The National nine had mixed results in the double-elimination formatted event at Marianna's M.E.R.E. Complex.

The West Hernando County squad returned home following a 2-2 stay in Franklin County.

Head coach Eric Smith's District 6 champions – who arrived unbeaten at 6-0 – opened the tourney on wrong foot: a 14-1 blowout loss to always-tough Sebring Saturday.

Spring Hill National, however, regrouped on Sunday, eliminating Paxton, 21-12.

In Monday afternoon's third–round tilt, National ousted Blountstown, 19-4.

But in a scheduling quirk, the Hernando County team had less than an hour to recover before taking the field for a rare Monday doubleheader against Hardee County.

The Highlands County crew – which had three hours to prepare – eventually eliminated Spring Hill National, 12-8.

Coach Smith was emotional after the setback. His voice cracked as was asked what lessons were learned at Marianna.

"In my eyes, we lost to lower-caliber teams," admitted Smith. "We're a team built around pitching and defense. This (pitching machine) format doesn't do us any favors. It's a format that favors bunting, bunting and more bunting.

"To me, it's a totally different game up here," added Smith, whose team concluded the summer with a fine 8-2 won-lost overall mark. "In my eyes, this isn't baseball. The trajectory of the machine isn't up or down. With the fences at 200, there are very few – if any – 7-8-year-olds who can hit one out."

After getting tomato-canned by Sebring in the opening round, Spring Hill spent its time between games modifying its lineup – both offensively and defensively.

"We had to learn to adjust to a brand-new style in less than 24 hours," emphasized Coach Smith. "We basically changed everything on the fly. What I liked most? On Sunday and in our first game on Monday, we only had two strikeouts. The kids were absolutely crushing the ball."

On Monday's nightcap against Hardee, "The heat had a lot to do with it. Playing another game 45 minutes after we finished a game took a lot out of us," noted Smith. "Still, give the kids credit; they played their hearts out."

What were this thoughts overall?

"It was a fabulous experience. The kids had a blast – that's what counts," said Smith, whose team averaged over 12 runs per game at states but also allowed almost 10.5 runs per game. "We did well for having to learn a completely new game with a completely different set of rules.

"Over the two months we've been together, the kids have improved. I couldn't ask for anything more," added Smith, who has unsure if he'd return to coaching Dixie All-Stars next summer. "Right now, I'm emotionally and mentally spent.

"I want to thank the kids for playing as hard as they could," Smith said in halting terms. "And I'd be remiss not to thank all the folks at home for helping support these boys."

Without his statistics in front of him, Coach Smith noted that Aiden Leskauskas and Joey Goebel were consistent threats for Spring Hill National and that "Brant (Davis) played exceptionally well, especially over the last three games. He did an awesome job at the plate with several big hits."


Dixie Baseball AA Rookies (ages 7-8) All-Stars Pitching Machine State Tournament Recap

at Marianna's M.E.R.E. Complex


West Volusia 15, Paxton 0

Sebring 14, Spring Hill National 1

Sneads 11, Graceville 4

East Lakeland 18, Holmes County 3

Hardee County 12, South Walton 10

West Seminole American 18, Franklin County 3

Wesley Chapel American 16, Marianna 8

Blountstown 13, Port St. Joe 4


Port St. Joe 11, Marianna 10

South Walton 20, Franklin County 1

Graceville 17, Holmes County 7

Spring Hill National 21, Paxton 12

Wesley Chapel American 15, Blountstown 5

West Seminole American 17, Hardee County 2

East Lakeland 12, Sneads 3

West Volusia 16, Sebring 7


Sebring 15, Port St. Joe 6

South Walton 7, Sneads 1

Hardee County 18, Graceville 1

Spring Hill National 19, Blountstown 4

West Seminole American 11, Wesley Chapel American 2

West Volusia 14, East Lakeland 4

Sebring 3, South Walton 0

Hardee County 12, Spring Hill National 8


Rained out


Sebring 12, Wesley Chapel American 3

Hardee County 4, East Lakeland 3 (8 Inns.)

West Seminole American 4, West Volusia 3

Sebring 16, West Volusia 1

West Seminole American 13, Hardee County 3



West Seminole American 8, Sebring 3

Final Dixie Baseball AA Rookies (ages 7-8) All-Stars Pitching Machine State Tournament Standings
1. West Seminole American 6 0     1.000 71 16
2. Sebring   5 2 .714 70 35
3.(tie) Hardee County  4 2 .667 51 52
3.(tie) West Volusia   3 2 .600 49 31
5.(tie) East Lakeland   2 2 .500 37 24
5.(tie) Wesley Chapel American 2 2 .500  36 28
7.(tie) Spring Hill National  2 2 .500 49 42
7.(tie) South Walton   2 2 .500 37 17
9.(tie) Blountstown   1 2 .333 22 38
9.(tie) Graceville   1 2 .333 22 36
9.(tie) Port St. Joe   1 2 .333 21 38
9.(tie) Sneads    1 2 .333 15 23
13.(tie)Marianna   0 2 .000 18 27
13.(tie)Franklin County  0 2 .000 04 38
13.(tie)Holmes County  0 2 .000 10 35
13.(tie)Paxton    0 2 .000 12 36
      TOTALS   30 30 .500


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