Valley Grande team claims state championshipPublished 7:47pm Monday, July 15, 2013
Well before baseball season got underway, Valley Grande’s 11-and-under baseball team knew what it wanted to accomplish this year— winning a state championship, something that has not been done in Selma in a long time.
At the start of July, the team made it a reality by winning the 11-and-under Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth Major 60 state baseball title with a 4-2 victory over Childersburg.
Last year, with nearly the same players, the team lost in the 10-and-under baseball state tournament and right after the game coach Richard Davis said the team vowed to get better.
“They decided then that they wanted to work harder this year and the majority of them started in March,” Davis said. “Most of the practices ended up being between two and a half to three hours long and they did that three to four days a week. They decided they wanted to do it.”
Davis said that each position player got about 50 balls hit to them in each practice. Each player also took about 50 to 60 pitches at the plate. He said it is hard to understand how hard the kids worked without seeing it in person.
The state baseball tournament was in Andalusia. Valley Grande won two of its three pool play games and then defeated last year’s state champions, Semmes, 3-1 in the state semifinals to move on to the championship game against Childersburg. Against Childersburg, who in pool play handed Valley Grande its only loss of the tournament, the team pulled out a 4-2 victory to claim the state title.
At the state tournament, Davis said that the coaches would show up early and see players already out there warming up — hours before the game.
“We would go early and you would see the players batting and the parents would be out there fielding the balls for them,” Davis said. “You just don’t see that kind of cooperation from parents anymore. They got out there before every game and it was like a live batting practice. You’d see momma’s and daddy’s out there helping field the balls.”
Davis said parents also helped out during practices and with getting the field ready to play. He said the team showed up to practice whether it was rain or shine.
“We had practices whether it rained or not. If it rained, we had practices in places where the mud was the thinnest,” Davis said. “People laughed at us when they saw us out there, but everybody got to where they didn’t ask if we were going to have practice if it rained. They just showed up. We did what we could.”
The Valley Grande baseball program started four years ago. At first they had no field to even practice on and they played every game on the road. Davis says the city has helped a lot by building fields so that the team had a place to practice and play.
The team still played every game on the road this season due to construction at the field, but Davis says the city is putting up lights on the field so that the team can actually host night games next season.
“As far as supporting them and giving them a place to play, [the city] has done a pretty good bit,” Davis said.
The team had ten players: Matthew Nichols, Kaleb Nichols, Baker King, Thomas Morris, Garrett Breach, Matthew Davis, Jeremy Lee, Tanner Smith, Jacob Peavy, and Dione Allen. Four coaches also helped with the team: Davis, Jeffrey Nichols, Caleb Morris, and Brian King.