All-Star teams make runs at state
By Michael Butler
And then there were two. Entering last week, Tallassee had five qualifiers for state tournaments in baseball and softball. A pair of teams remain in the running for championships.
Two Tallassee Babe Ruth teams were within one game of titles. The 14- and 15-year-old squads both reached the finals, yet each were beaten by Sylacauga.
The 14U team played its tournament in Wetumpka and rolled through pool play with wins over Covington County (13-0) and Sylacauga (17-4) to earn the No. 1 seed. After winning 12-2 over Andalusia, Tallassee faced Syalacauga for the championship and lost 5-2. It was the same team that the Tigers beat in Tallassee for the district title.
The 15U team was in Childersburg. The Tallassee team defeated West Alabama (7-2), Central Alabama (12-7), Covington County (11-1) and fell 6-5 to Sylacauga in eight innings on a walk-off homerun in pool play. The Tigers beat West Alabama again (4-2) to get to the finals for a rematch with Sylacauga.
The game was tight until late when Sylacauga had a six-run sixth on their way to a 9-2 victory. Prior to the big inning, Tallassee coaches Craig Vaught and Shannon Graham were ejected, in addition to a few Tallassee fans.
"There were some balls that were questionable," Vaught said. "I went out to the umpire and asked, 'Mr. Umpire, can you say where these balls are missing?' He said, 'You need to go back to the dugout.'"
Vaught made a return trip with a 3-1 Tallassee deficit in the bottom of the fifth, posing the same question and receiving the same response. Vaught prodded further.
"When he said, 'I'm calling balls and strikes,' I told him he wasn't doing a very good job of it."
Vaught then kicked a cloud of dirt in the ump's direction.
"After what I did, I walked to the dugout. He followed me the whole way and made a comment to me that I'm not going to repeat. He then looks at Shannon Graham and says, 'You don't say a word to me boy' and points his finger at him. That's when Shannon got involved. He kicked him out.
"It got intense for these young men whom I've thoroughly enjoyed coaching for two years. I hate that it went down like that. I can accept being beat, but I cannot accept when an umpire takes it away. If you're going to be bad, be consistent on both sides."
DYB District 5 Commissioner Jack Fillingham with Tallassee 10U Rookie Head Coach Klay Peters presenting Jack Butler the game ball for his perfect game vs. Decatur National
Tallassee had another team in a state tournament, the 10U rookies. The Dixie Youth Baseball District 5 champs played in Tuscaloosa. The young Tigers lost two one-run games; the opener to Cherokee American (6-5) and the finale to Taylorville (10-9).
The one win was a 16-0 mercy rule decision over Decatur National. Jack Butler pitched a perfect game, striking out seven batters. He was presented a game ball by District 5 Commissioner Jack Fillingham.
Tallassee's other 10U team will begin play at the state tournament in Troy on Thursday, July 13 at 7:00 p.m. vs. South Bibb. South Bibb is a familiar foe. Last year the 8U team beat Tallassee in two one-run games and won the state title reaching the World Series championship game. The year before, the 8U group also knocked out the Tallassee stars at the state tournament.
The 6U Dixie Youth Softball SweeTees from Tallassee are off to a good start at the state level playing in Eufaula. The girls have wins over Enterprise (26-6) and Montgomery American (28-17). In the Montgomery American win, Maddie Tennyson turned an unassisted triple play.
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Tallassee 6U DYS Sweeties, Eufaula
Tallassee 10U DYB AAA, Troy