When summer rolls around, recreational sports come into full swing and none more so than baseball. One team in particular, Clinton All-Stars, have been extremely successful this season, sitting undefeated with the opportunity to play for a championship before them.
The Clinton All-Stars are a 12U team that belongs to a group called the Dixie Majors, a youth baseball small league. They are currently partaking in the 2018 North Carolina Dixie Youth Baseball Small League State Tournament held in Kenansville, which began this past weekend. The tournament, running from July 14-19, is comprised of eight teams from all across North Carolina. The teams include Clinton, Leland, Bladen County, North Duplin, Coats, White Oak, Shallotte and Bessemer City.
Clinton’s All-Stars are performing well, being the only undefeated team remaining in the tournament and have been in cruise control since the start. Taking huge wins in the first three games over White Oak in Game 1 11-1, 12-6 over Bessemer City in Game 2 and most recently 10-3 over Bladen County in Game 3.
Clinton All-Stars head coach Terry Smith credited the team’s success to excellent pitching and hitting.
“We’ve outscored everyone and our pitching is what has really helped us,” said Smith. “I currently have 12 players and out of those 12 seven of them have pitched for us, that depth really helps us out too.”
“We’ve hit the ball well also, we actually have one home run which is rare in small league considering the type of bats we use,” Smith continued. “Overall we have been pitching and hitting very well which has made us the only undefeated team left so we have to lose twice now to be out of it.”
Smith also stated that their defense and unselfishness helped push team this far as well.
“Our defense has been playing good too and one thing I can say about this team is that no one kid standouts above the others,” said Smith. “They play together and are a really unselfish team and because of that if we tonight we’ll be in the championship.”
The Clinton All-stars find themselves in a rematch against a team they’ve previously beaten, Bessemer City. Another win will propel them to the championship where they’ll await the winner of Bladen County and North Duplin, a match-up Bladen won the first time, 12-2.
Sam Underwood, assistant coach for Clinton’s All-Stars, also shared his thoughts on his team and their performance up to this point.
“I’m very proud of them, I’ve been coaching for nine year now and I have enjoyed watching these boys growing into young men and I look forward to seeing them play middle and high school ball,” said Underwood.
Underwood also touched on what it’s like being apart of a team playing so well and how coaching players early on has helped them develop to this level.
“It’s been an honor to be a part of something like this, these kids are always so excited and seem to be in the zone which is always good to see,” he added.
“As far as playing at this level I’d say between me and coach Smith, who’s my brother-in-law, coaching these guys at an early age is what helped out. “Because of this we are able to really structure their game and mechanics to be what they are today,” concluded Underwood.
The Clinton All-Stars rematch against Bessemer City was set for Tuesday at 8 p.m.
Reach Michael Hardison at [email protected] Follow us on Facebook and Twitter @SampsonInd.