Sports

July 13, 2013

Locals on diamond at tourney

They’re just a group of former baseball players who decided, “Slow-pitch softball? Why not give it a try?”

For the Murray County Indians squad, that’s what this weekend’s Southern Softball Association of America Youth World Series is about.

But for many other teams, this event is as big a tradition as the sport itself.

The Indians are the only local team — or Georgia team, for that matter — competing in the tournament, which started Thursday and concludes today at Heritage Point Park in Dalton. The Indians and 57 other boys and girls teams competed in pool play Thursday and Friday morning, and were seeded based on their performance for double-elimination bracket play that started Friday afternoon and continues today.

Event organizer Mike Mason said there are 45 boys teams and 13 girls teams, the first time in the event’s near 25-year existence it has included female competition. Teams were split into age divisions, as young as 8-and-under and as old as 20-and-under for boys, and as young as 8-and-under and as old as 19-and-under for girls.

The Indians, who were in the 20-and-under division, signed up at the last minute. Playing first base for the team was 2011 Murray County High School graduate Taylor Patterson, The Daily Citizen’s All-Area Player of the Year for baseball and boys basketball during the 2010-2011 school year.

“It was just a spur-of-the-moment thing with a group of friends wanting to do something during the summer,” he said, noting the team mostly includes Murray County graduates, with a few Northwest Whitfield graduates sprinkled in.

One of the differences is the speed of the game. For local athletes, slow-pitch softball is a foreign concept at the high school level.

Still, Patterson doesn’t think it’s a big change.

“See ball; hit ball,” he said. “It doesn’t matter how hard it’s coming, you have to hit the ball. ... I think the older we get the more we will play it. We’re all used to competing and once we get out of the competitive sport, we’ll play it. I think the older guys around here play it a lot. My dad played a lot of it. I think it’s bigger the older you get.

“In the mid-20s, I think people play it a lot. In our age group? Not so much.”

In Louisiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania, the sport is largely popular. That’s where the bulk of the teams competing in the tournament are from, Mason said.

“Ever since my dad and all of his friends played it, you see every kid playing it,” said Ryan Miller, coach of Sportrax of Ohio, a Canton-based team. “Once they reach 13 years old, they start forming teams. Usually it goes until we’re 20 or 21.”

A big reason for the sport’s popularity in Ohio and Pennsylvania is the large Amish population. Miller and his teammates are Amish, and many of them left school after eighth grade, having never been exposed to high school baseball.

The same is true for many players on the Lancaster softball squad, from Lancaster County, Pa.

“I went to high school, personally, but a lot of the people (from around there) don’t,” said Anthony Stoltzfus, the team’s captain.

Miller admitted it’s a little strange coming to an area where an open national tournament only drew one nearby team.

“Obviously, slow-pitch softball is a lot bigger back in Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania than it is down here,” Miller added. “Tennessee has some good teams. Shez City from (Catahoula) Louisiana brings a lot of good programs here each year.”

Charlie Stanley, another 2011 Murray County graduate, thinks the odd part is seeing teams from across the country coming to Dalton for a sport he and his teammates have little exposure to.

“I never expected teams from Pennsylvania and Ohio to come all the way down here just to play in a three-day tournament, but it’s exciting,” Stanley said.

1
Text Only
Sports
  • DSCsoccer2.jpg Ready to get started: Roadrunners add Daser as soccer director

    Dalton State College athletic director Derek Waugh called Kerem Daser a good “fit” as the Roadrunners’ new soccer director.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • CreekFootball.jpg Coahulla Creek enters new era with Barger

    VARNELL — With just two varsity football seasons to its credit and little success in the win column so far, Coahulla Creek High School doesn’t yet have what one would call a proud football history.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rush turning to Gold's

    Dalton is gaining a Gold’s Gym, but losing The Rush Fitness Complex.

    July 30, 2014

  • Dalton State College hires Kerem Daser as soccer director

    Dalton State College athletic director Derek Waugh said Tuesday that Kerem Daser, a veteran soccer coach, is the Roadrunners’ new soccer director.

    July 29, 2014

  • NW vs Cass baseball 6  mlh.jpg Thrown a curveball

    About four weeks ago, Seth Pierce and his family moved closer to Ringgold High School — a move which has big ramifications on two sports fronts. Not only will his departure affect the Northwest Whitfield High School baseball program, the move will also put him back on the football field.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • NW Football3.jpg Prep football: NW Whitfield staying hungry for more success

    Northwest Whitfield High School entered the 2013 season motivated to reach the state playoffs — something the Bruins accomplished.
    This year’s team possesses the hunger to mirror last season’s successes — and possibly more.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Chris Whitfield: Ending ride (kind of) as sports writer

    T wo weeks ago, I was told by managing editor Jamie Jones that I would no longer be a full-time sports writer with The Daily Citizen. It was a mutual decision.

    July 28, 2014

  • Local trio leads NW section to 3rd place

    Tori Owens, of Chatsworth finished 11-over-par Monday in the Junior Sectional Challenge Match at The Landings Club-Marshwood and Magnolia in Savannah for third place in the girls 12-13-year-old 9-hole division. She joined Landon Painter and Hardin Chambless on the Northwest team.

    July 28, 2014

  • SE fball conditioning 1 mlh.jpg Prep football: Raiders enter preseason hoping for breakthrough

    Entering his third year as Southeast Whitfield High School’s football coach, Sean Gray believes the last obstacle is belief.
    He believes this group of Raiders has that quality.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • Devin Golden: Other sports start practice this week

    Football isn’t the only high school sport during the fall — and the others are joining in this week.

    July 28, 2014

Devin Golden's sports updates
AP Video
Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando