Selma headed to World Series after all

Published 5:37 pm Friday, July 29, 2016

Selma’s Dixie Boys Baseball team is heading to the World Series after all.

The 14U All-Stars lost to Enterprise in two games last week in Dothan during the Dixie Boys State Championship but caught a break Thursday when Enterprise pulled out of the World Series over concern regarding the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s 50 percent rule.

The rule limits participation on a non-school team outside of the school year.

“At first, I thought somebody was playing a joke on me,” said Selma head coach Ricky Waters. “These boys, it’s like they’ve got nine lives. They’ve got another chance.”

Selma lost to Enterprise 12-3 and 18-8 last week in Dothan but didn’t leave empty handed. The team was awarded the runner-up trophy and also won the Dixie Baseball Sportsmanship award in a unanimous vote.

Now, they’ll be playing for much more.

The World Series will start Friday in Pineville, Louisiana and Selma will play its first game Saturday against Florida.

Enterprise pulled out of the tournament after a discussion with parents and players regarding the AHSAA’s participation rule.

“Participation (includes practice) during the school year on a non-school team outside the school season by students that will play the following season on the same high school varsity or junior varsity/B-team (grades 7-12) is limited to 50 percent of the number of players required to play the game (i.e., three in basketball, six in soccer, five in baseball, etc.),” the handbook says.

The new school year for the AHSAA begins on the first day fall sports teams are allowed to practice, which is Monday, Aug. 1. If the tournament had been played before that date, there would’ve been no conflict with AHSAA rules.

D. Mark Mitchell, the state director for Dixie Baseball, said this is the first time anything like this has ever happened.

“They earned their right, and it’s sad that they are not getting to go but on the other hand, it’s incredible and awesome that the second place team … will be allowed to go,” Mitchell said. “I’m thrilled for Selma. It’s awesome. I hate it for Enterprise.”

Mitchell said it was the athletic director from Enterprise High School was the one who brought the rule conflict to everyone’s attention. He said no other teams were involved.

“The school system here was being proactive. The athletic director once he realized we were going to the World Series and understanding what players were on there he communicated with the high school coach and could foresee a problem down the road,” said Billy Powell, the recreation director for the city of Enterprise.

Powell said players took a vote on whether or not to play and chance their eligibility for the 2017 baseball season. Powell said the team went to the Alabama High School Athletic Association for an exemption, but that request was denied.

The city of Selma was notified of Enterprise’s decision on Thursday and scrambled to get travel plans prepared. Dixie Boys Baseball has already booked the team five rooms, according to Mitchell.

Gerald Barron, the city of Selma’s baseball director, said the city is helping the team with transportation and meals.

“We give them a per diem anyways, so we will give them that,” Barron said. “We will use a van to take them.”

This is Selma’s first team in a World Series since 1981. Waters played on that team, which finished second in the Dizzy Dean World Series that year.

He’s excited his team is getting a second chance after a poor showing in the last two games in Enterprise, where he said the team didn’t play its best.

“They are jumping for joy,” Waters said. “My phone has not stopped since I let them know the news.”

The tournament will take place at the Pineville Ward 9 Sportsplex, located at 3311 Donahue Ferry Road, Pineville, LA 71360.