The Greenbrier 8U all-stars saw their successful summer come to an end last week in the Dixie Youth AA Coach Pitch World Series in Ruston, Louisiana.
After beating Louisiana, Georgia and North Carolina, Greenbrier lost back-to-back contests to Mississippi and South Carolina on July 29, eliminating them from title contention.
“It was a tremendous honor to represent our community, county and state,” Greenbrier coach Josh Pulley said. “We competed well and had a good showing. We came up short of our ultimate goal, but I think all the boys had a good time.”
Greenbrier advanced to the World Series by winning all nine of its state tournament games in early July. That gave them the honor of wearing orange Team Tennessee uniforms at the World Series.
Pulley said his team was on par with the talent level in Ruston. But Greenbrier’s bats ran out of juice, and several fielding errors in the Mississippi game sent them to the loser’s bracket, where they ran into a hot-hitting South Carolina squad.
“There wasn’t a team there that we couldn’t have beaten if we played well,” he said. “We didn’t hit well outside of the North Carolina game. We gave Mississippi five unearned runs. They made us pay. South Carolina barreled up more balls than we did, and everything they hit seemed to find a hole.”
The Dixie Youth World Series was the first major event held at the Ruston Sports Complex, a 185-acre development that will include 36 total baseball fields, 16 turf fields, batting cages and other amenities when it is eventually completed. The complex was mostly spared from the EF-3 tornado that ravaged the town in late April.
“It was all turf, infield and outfield,” Pulley said. “One of the fields we played on had bleacher seating. It wasn’t finished yet, but it’s a very nice park. The boys really enjoyed playing on the turf.”
A large contingent of Greenbrier fans made the 8.5-hour drive to Ruston. That group included Braxton Fuqua’s mother, Nicole Turnbow, and his sister, Kelsey. Braxton Fuqua was a member of the Greenbrier all-star team until he passed away from brain cancer May 29.
“We had a good representation (of fans),” Pulley said. “Lots of aunts, uncles, grandparents and parents. Everyone had a blast.”
Most of the Greenbrier all-stars will move up to kid pitch baseball next season. That means the team will have to find its own pitching talent and adjust to a different style of play.
“We have a good group of kids,” Pulley said. “Coach pitch and trying to serve it over the plate like a volleyball is over for these boys. We’ve got to develop some pitching, and hopefully, make another run.”
Dixie Youth World Series results:
July 27: Texas 5, Tennessee 4
July 27: Tennessee 5, Louisiana 2
July 28: Tennessee 6, Georgia 5
July 28: Tennessee 6, North Carolina 2
July 29: Mississippi 7, Tennessee 2
July 29: South Carolina 6, Tennessee 0
Bear Pulley, John Slagle, Ashton Chowning, Jack Carter, Carter Pass, River Hilliard, Yaelin Garrett, Kaden Evitts, Wesley Dorris, Colt Connally, Ricky Clark III, Traydon Bostick
Josh Pulley, Dud Connally, Tray Bostick, Ken Dorris