Watch out, Bluffton. There are a dozen young baseball champions in our midst and they are fired up for the state championship this month.
The Bluffton American Minors All-Stars, a team of a dozen 9- and 10-year-olds, are heading to the South Carolina Dixie Youth AAA State Tournament, set for July 13-21 in Moncks Corner.
"This is very exciting," said coach and manager Toby Colella. "They worked so hard and they're seeing their hard work pay off."
The team earned the slot after winning the District 8 2018 Dixie Youth AAA Championship tournament, held June 20-24 in Walterboro. The team went 4-0 for a clean sweep. The district event included seven teams from four counties - Beaufort, Colleton, Jasper and Hampton.
Colella said the team "had a balanced attack at the plate, on the mound and in the field. The team batted .429 for the tournament with an average ERA of 3.00 and only committed four errors all tournament."
The team outscored their opponents a total of 42-13. In the final round, Bluffton beat Hilton Head 16-6.
Colella said the team is a cohesive one that works and plays well together, something they have been doing since last August. Colella attributes their success, in part, to their focus on a goal: "We set the goal in August to be the first team from Bluffton to win the state championship," he said. Colella and assistant coaches Jason Putnam and Trea Robbins have a motto: "Work hard in silence and make noise on the field."
At the state tournament, the Bluffton All-Stars will compete against 15 other teams, with the winner being invited to the national Dixie Youth Baseball World Series in Lumberton, N.C., in August.
Their manager believes they can win the state and move on to the nationals.
"I've never seen a team of harder working young men and I think they are more than prepared to go out there and win," Colella said.
The Bluffton All-Stars first tournament game will be held at noon July 14 on Field 4 at the Regional Recreation Complex, 418 East Main St., in Moncks Corner. Fans who would like to cheer on the local team can find information at southcarolina.dixie.org.