A Columbia County All-Star baseball team found itself in a hole July 13 after losing its first state championship game.
The 9- and 10-year-old All-Stars came back in a big way, though, to win the Georgia Dixie Youth All-Stars State Championships in Wrens, Ga.
In a best-of-three series against Monroe County, the Columbia County team lost its first game 10-8.
They responded to the adversity July 14 by sweeping a doubleheader to clinch the title. In Game 2, the team won 17-1 in four innings as the mercy rule shortened the game, and then held on to a one-run lead in the final game for a 9-8 win.
They now advance to play against Tennessee in the first round of the 2012 Dixie Youth AAA World Series in Bartow, Fla., beginning Aug. 4.
“I’m proud of our little kids,” said head coach Jason Combs. “They had to battle back a couple of times in the tournament.”
The world series won’t be anything new for Combs or assistant coach Richy Short, who won the Dixie Majors for Columbia County in 1991 after graduating from Evans High School.
“We’re really hoping these kids will have the same experience we had 20 years ago,” said Combs. “My son is on this team.
“It would be real special if I could get one for him, that’s for sure.”
At the softball Dixie Ponytails 11-12 State Tournament July 13 and 14 in Baldwin, Ga., the Columbia County All-Star Ponytails also had to work hard to win the championship.
After beating Crawford County 12-2 in its first game, the team then beat Taylor County 14-0 in three innings. The girls used a 15-run second inning to dispatch Taylor County 18-3 in three innings to win the title.
“We looked real sharp,” said head coach Ronnie Sanders. “Our defense was really solid.
“We made two errors all tournament.”
One of the standouts for Sanders was his No. 2 pitcher Julieann Fuller, who pitched seven innings in the tournament.
The team will now play in the 2012 Dixie Ponytails World Series in Hartsville, S.C., and faces Darlington next Saturday.