There's not much baseball being played at this point in the year. In the Major Leagues, only four out of 30 teams are still playing. As long as the Yankees aren't there, I'm fine with it (I say Cards in six).
I haven't played baseball since middle school. My playing abilities remain at that level, but I still love a good church softball game.
The truth is, only the good players are still playing baseball in October.
In Columbia County, one team is still playing ball, and they're playing it well.
The Stars baseball team is one of more than 150 teams across the nation in the USSSA's 15 and under AAA class. Out of those teams, the Stars are ranked No. 1.
They should be. They've won three out of their past four tournaments.
The team started five years ago as a 10-year-old all-star squad. For the past half-decade, most of the boys have been playing together. This season, the boys are entering high school. According to head coach Billy Gamblin, the plan was to break the team up after last season so the boys could concentrate on playing for their high school team. The boys didn't want to give up and decided to stay together for one final year.
Stars Baseball won all four games of the Greenville Fall Brawl on September 17-18. The Stars 15-and-under USSSA travel team has already received a berth in the 2006 World Series in Kissimee, Florida. Players are: Brandon Dominy (front, from left) Harrison Brawley, Cody Cozart, Patrick Arrington, Jeffrey Rice, Tyler Barden and Patrick Gamblin; Aaron Lewis (back row, from left) Michael Brewster, Steven Krepps, Shawn McCain, Tanner Hall and A.J. Thibodeau. Coaches are: Billy Gamblin, Mike Arrington and Keith Barden.
So now the team is wrapping up a full travel ball season this fall, and its players will soon start a full high school schedule, most of them on their high school varsity squads.
I know from personal experience that playing year- round baseball isn't easy.
My baseball-playing days ended before high school. The Little League season was long, and, as a left-handed batter, I was soon introduced to the right-handed pitcher's curve ball. After I found out I'd no longer be receiving fudge rounds and a juice box after the game, I decided to hang up my Will Clark autographed mitt.
For these boys, their baseball careers are just getting started.
With a geographically mixed group on the Stars, high school ball means teammates soon will become rivals.
The Stars have players from all over.
Patrick Gamblin is the first baseman from Harlem. Tanner Hall will soon play center field for Lakeside. A.J. Thibodeau, the Stars leadoff man, will join Gamblin at Harlem. The Stars catcher, Brandon Dominey, a 10th-grader, already suits up for Evans, and Patrick Arrington will play at Lakeside.
After five years as teammates, the next four years should bring some big-time match-ups between these players.
Until then, the Stars season continues. The squad has already earned a bid to the USSSA AAA World Series in Kissimmee, Fla., in July. The team will play at a tournament in Myrtle Beach this weekend.
So good luck to the Stars. They'll represent Columbia County well, then beat each other up in high school ball.
If only we could all get a juice box afterwards.
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