Coaches dispute nearly cancels T-ball semi-final …. Huntland named tourney champs
Without suffering a single loss in the all-star postseason tournament, Huntland’s T-ball team was named the district champions. The team includes, front row, from left, Preston Steele, Chandler Banks, Carson St. Martin, Jed Ashley, Preston Maxwell, Grant Jernigan, Justin Pulido, Jaxon Stovall, Brody Maxwell, Caleb Maxwell and Matthew Dickson. In the back row are coaches Andy Maxwell, Jamie Maxwell, Brock Maxwell, and Doug Jernigan
—Staff Photo by Evan Harris
The first of the district postseason youth baseball tournaments is in the books with Huntland earning first place in the T-ball tournament.
Held in Lynchburg, the tournament saw Franklin County area teams at the top of the talent marker. Eventually Huntland Defeated the Winchester red team in the championship game on Tuesday night, 18-4.
However, the championship game wasn’t the first meeting between the two teams that shared part in an eight-inning thriller on Monday night.
A game that seemed lost early for Winchester, trailing 15-8 after three innings, it battled back to make things interesting.
The comeback began in the fourth inning. Huntland scored just three runs in the top half of the inning, two less than the run limit of five per inning. Winchester scored five runs in the bottom half of the fourth inching closer at 18-13.
Still trailing by a significant margin, Winchester turned on the after burners in the sixth and possible final inning.
With just one run, Huntland could’ve ended the game, but Winchester’s defense held up sitting down three straight batters.
Now needing to score the maximum amount of five runs to extend the game, the little athletes showed they could be clutch scoring the five runs with all three outs to spare.
Each team exchanged five runs each in the first of the extra innings. But in the eighth inning, Huntland surged out ahead for the final time.
After scoring five runs in the top of the inning, Huntland held Winchester to just one run, winning by a final score of 31-27.
Falling down to the losers’ bracket, Winchester red had to take on some familiar faces in the Winchester blue team.
The game took place on Tuesday night prior to the championship game and at one point seemed as if the game wouldn’t be finished.
Red led for the entire game and went on to win 25-15.
However the score wasn’t the most eye-catching part of the game, but rather the moment when District Administrator Curtis Jackson promptly told everyone to exit the field that the game was over in the third inning.
This statement didn’t come out of leftfield, but rather at the home plate once a coaches’ discussion got a little lengthy.
Disagreeing about a rule, both head coaches were at home plate consulting with the umpires.
Jackson then entered into the conversation and quickly showed he would have no patience regarding the situation.
“Basically what we had was one coach on the Winchester blue team that was questioning the rules that we have for the tournament,” Jackson said, following the game’s conclusion. “Of course one team is disagreeing, one team is agreeing.”
He went on to explain what happened next.
“Once I intervene, it’s like they can’t get along or they can’t agree, so in my opinion, if adults can’t agree and get along, then we just don’t play,” Jackson said. “We’re talking 6-year-old kids here”
For a moment everyone froze, kids exited the field, entering their dugouts and began to slowly, but slightly, pack up as if to head home for the evening.
As one would guess, several parents who had driven to the game in Lynchburg were upset.
Speaking their minds came easily.
“I had several people come to me and say, ‘look our kids want to play, the other kids want to play, don’t penalize the kids,’ which I agree with,” Jackson said, referring to what followed his momentary decision to end the game.
With the uproar of parents complaints, Jackson returned to the field with a new solution.
Instead of canceling the game, Jackson opted to remove both head coaches and continue on with play action as normal.
“This is for the kids, but at the end of the day, the adults have to be the leaders of this thing, and they have get along, and they have to act right or the kids pay the price,” Jackson, summing up his final thoughts about the incident.
Neither coach was overjoyed about being removed from the game, but Jackson did reiterate that the two had not been ejected but rather removed.
“I know they look at it like they were ejected, but basically it wasn’t like we’re ejecting you for, because of whatever,” he said. “It’s just we don’t want anymore controversy for the rest of this game, we want the kids to play.”
Although the decision wasn’t entirely received well, Jackson’s main focus was the kids he was referring to.
“Whether that’s right or wrong (in regard to removing the head coaches), I don’t know, but at that point you have to make a decision,” Jackson said.
Ensuing all the discussion, the game did continue and not much changed.
Eventually time ran out on the blue team, giving Winchester red the victory, and a rematch with Huntland in the championship game.
Winchester red had just a short time to rest before the championship game was underway.
Winchester’s red all-star team battled hard and finished second in the T-ball district tournament. The team includes, front row, from left, Brandon Walker, Maddux Riley, Jaelyn Ritchie, Kensley Kilpatrick and Lakaris Brown. In the middle row are C.J Francis, Josiah Cullins, Miller Crabtree, Triston Hill, Noah Knapper and Brock Hall. The back row includes coaches Carmack Cullins, Brad Crabtree, Tommy Riley and Jess Cullins.
—Staff Photo by Evan Harris
After the first inning, Huntland led 5-4 over Winchester. Four runs in the first happened to be the only runs of the game for Winchester as it went into a slump, accompanied by some very impressive defense from Huntland.
The game was cut short after four innings, and Huntland was named the champions following a decisive 18-4 victory.