Any good coach will tell you that it takes an entire team to win a championship–from the boy who warms up the right-fielder to the backup catcher, who gets behind the plate while the starter puts on his gear after the final out of an inning.
It’s no different for the 10-under Southport/Oak Island All-Star team as the ball club from Brunswick County gets ready to represent North Carolina at this year’s Dixie Youth World Series.
“It really has been a total team effort,” said Coach Clay Jenkins. “Our pitching and defense has been solid throughout the course of this season and it’s very important to point out that all 12 of our players made game-changing plays at some point to get us to the World Series. Some had unexpected hits, catches, great base running plays or a throw out.”
Southport/Oak Island has had a grueling summer schedule, filled with many highs after entering the 10U District Tournament alongside approximately 80 other teams from the southeast region of the state.
Coming off their district title, the boys from Brunswick County competed at the Dixie Youth State Tournament in Lillington, July 10-17. There were 16 teams in the event and the Southport/Oak Island came out on top with a perfect 7-0 mark. They outscored their opponents 55-10 to advance to the state finals against Charlotte-South Park.
The best-of-three series to determine the state’s representative at the World Series proved to be the toughest test for the local team as perserverence shined for the young ballplayers thanks to a pair of comeback victories.
“Our first game against Charlotte South Park we were down 12-11 going into the sixth,” said Jenkins. “We held them scoreless in the top of the sixth and in the bottom of the inning, with one out, Jayden Watkins walked, Sean Wagoner singled and after a ground out, with two outs and runners on second and third, Jaden Marvin had a walk-off double to the left-center fence to win it.”
The second game proved to be another pressure situation for Southport/Oak Island. With the team trailing 7-3 after five innings, it looked as if they were headed to a decisive game three to determine the state championship. But, in the top of the sixth, Walker Jenkins homered over the wall in right-center, which was followed by a barrage of hits and a total of 11 batters in the inning that included a double by Shelton Bocook and a triple by Marvin.
“During the state tournament our team was 81-for-181 for a .448 batting average.” Jenkins added. “We had a number of big individual performances at the plate and our pitchers shared time on the mound to help us win the championship. We used six pitchers evenly during the tournament and none of them got close to their pitching limit (13 innings each in the bracket play and six innings each in the championship series).”
Southport/Oak Island is now set to travel to Lexington, South Carolina, to play in the Dixie Youth World Series, Aug. 7-15. They will be one of 12 teams from different states to compete at the event.
“We will no longer wear our Southport/Oak Island jersey and will wear the North Carolina jersey as representatives of the state,” said Jenkins. “We are currently raising money to help the team make this trip. Many of our parents have already used vacation days and spent countless days in hotels. Any donations would be appreciated.”
To help the Southport/Oak Island 10-under All-Star make the trip to the Palmetto State, donate on their GoFundMe page at dt.gofund.me/zncyc4m.
Jaden Marvin, 13-for-25, two doubles, triple and a homer; Dow Pender, 8-for-21; Walker Jenkins, 15-for-20, three doubles, two triples and five home runs; Jordan Daniels, 10-for-18, three doubles, two home runs; Shelton Bocook, 7-for-16, six doubles; Ford Disbrow, 5-for-15, double; Jayden Watkins, 7-for-16, Sean Wagoner, 4-for-16; Will Johnson, 5-for-15; Gage Sessome, 4-for-7, 2 doubles; Jordan Davis, 3-for-6