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Games end prematurely as 10U title hopes dashed

By Michael Butler

It was a bit like a script from a bad movie. Or at least one with a bad ending because there was no ending.

The Tallassee 10U all-stars were vying for the USSSA World Series Championship in Gulfport, Miss. when stormy weather hit. Instead of resuming play when conditions improved, officials opted to end the tournament prior to having a championship game.

"We were up 5-1 on the Huffman team," said coach Kevin O'Rear. "We had beaten the No. 1 seed Aledo team out of Texas. Neither Huffman nor Aledo had to play two pool play games. Both had a forfeit."

Tallassee was 5-1 overall with its only setback, a 12-11 loss to Huffman, which went 4-1. Newton was 4-1 and given first place. Huffman was awarded second.

Tallassee's consolation final vs. Huffman was in the third inning when play was halted. With a win, Tallassee would have advanced to face Newton in the title series.

10U all-stars (left to right): (bottom, left to right): Jacob Willcutt, Bo Burton, Kade O'Rear, Ben Speake, Zayne Bush, Ayden Parker. (Top row, left to right): Landyn Woodall, Logan Bruner, Jax Luster, Kobe Henderson, Cam Taylor.

"Jax Luster was leading the team in batting average. He cracked his elbow on Friday. A kid hit him with a bat, obviously accidentally. These kids fought through without one of our top players."

O'Rear and the other coaches, players and fans assumed that play would resume after the storms passed.

"We thought it was a good opportunity for our guys to get a break because we had already played roughly four hours in a row. We had no idea that we were going to get the answer that we did."

Communication was made with Alabama's USSSA officials to no avail however.

"The thing that all of our parents were the most upset about was that the director for our tournament would not even come out to speak and give an explanation. They had a security guard that came out and spoke for him. That put a lot of sour taste in people's mouths.

"It had stopped raining. We could've been playing baseball. I don't understand it. If this is just a weekend travel ball tournament, you declare a winner. But, the World Series? These kids have worked so hard. They deserved more."

According to O'Rear, Tallassee was set for the remainder of the tourney if it had progressed.

"We still had five pitchers who had multiple innings. It was bad luck. I hate the way it was handled. My dad taught me that if you start something you finish it. We would've stayed until Wednesday to finish this thing. These kids were on fire. I've never seen a team come together like that. They've already handed out rings. They placed us third. We beat the No. 1 seed. We were beating the No. 2 seed. We were in the driver's seat. We had the momentum."

O'Rear would like to have some finality and has reached out to USSSA about rescheduling games possibly in Oxford, Ala. with the last-standing contenders.

"If they're able to set it up, we're ready to go. We want to play. We want to declare a true champion. Nodody's truly won this World Series. Between the three teams that were left, we deserve a shot. We want to finish. It was a consensus among the group. We don't want to just be handed a ring."

Tallassee 10U All-Stars
Gulfport World Series Results:

Colquille W 17-1
Bill Bond W 9-4
Northport Nationals W 9-1
Huffman L 12-11
Aledo Black W 13-2
Bloomfield Pride W 6-5
Huffman (in-progress) 5-1 Tallassee (Top 3rd)