Troup Baseball enjoys dominant season
By Kevin Eckleberry
LAGRANGE – It was no contest.
In recent months, the Troup Baseball 12-and-under travel team has taken no prisoners.
Troup Baseball has been winning championships in nearly every tournament it has participated in, so it was a fairly confident bunch that headed to Alabama for the USSSA World Series.
Still, it was a tournament that featured elite teams from the Southeast, so the path to a title figured to be a difficult one.
As Troup Baseball has done consistently, though, it took care of the opposition in convincing fashion.
The team played in six games, and it won them all by a combined score of 48-6.
That was Troup Baseball’s seventh tournament win in eight attempts dating back to the fall season.
In the only tournament Troup didn’t win, it placed second.
“Last season, we finished runner-up so many times,” said Chip Medders, the principal at Troup High who is the head coach for Troup Baseball. “Somewhere in the fall, we turned a corner. Since the fall, we’ve won seven tournaments. I think that’s all the tournaments where we were knocking on the door. We finally figured out how to kick the door in. Now when we enter a tournament, they expect to win.”
Troup bashed the door down in Gulf Shores.
In the opening game, Troup County beat Mississippi 3-0, and that turned out to be the most competitive game of the tournament.
“It was total dominance from start to finish,” Medders said. “(After the Mississippi game), the next five games, there was never a doubt. Every game we played, we scored in the first inning. That’s something we talk to our kids about is establishing dominance in the first inning, and drawing first blood, and we did it every single game.”
Of the 12 players on the roster, eight of them have been together since the team was created four years ago.
Medders said for he and the other coaches, it has been immensely gratifying to see the players advance and develop over the years.
“For the most part, it’s the exact same kids,” Medders said. “I think there are eight of them that were on that original team that we started with. That’s pretty amazing, because that doesn’t happen very often with travel ball any more that you have a group that stays together that long. And that’s part of the reason why they excel. They know each other, and they play hard. They accept their role for the team with how they contribute to the team. There’s no complaining, or me kind of attitude about it. They just go about their way. And over the course of time, they’ve gotten better and better. And they’re a pretty good baseball team right now.”
Medders added that “you’re taking them when they’re infants as far as baseball knowledge. You see them mature, and in a couple of years they’re going to be on a high-school field. And it’s cool to know that you were a part of it for that long. It’s real satisfying to see it.”
Medders said all of the players have participated in hundreds of games, and the eight original members are closing in on 200 travel games played.
“I was looking at those eight, and they’ve played 182 games together in travel ball,” Medders said. “That’s a lot of baseball. And then when you get in that situation where you’re playing in a big tournament, you’ve got so much experience to rely on, good and bad. You know how to deal with adversity. And if you can’t deal with adversity in baseball, you’re not going to go very far, because there is a lot of adversity in baseball. And I think our kids know it.”
The World Series marked the end of the spring season, and it has been a busy time, but Medders said the energy level of the players never waned.
“Saturday night I was exhausted, and I think the parents were exhausted, and I’m thinking we’ve got eight weeks off before we start back again with fall ball,” Medders said. “And I’m looking at those kids, and if I had said play ball, they would have said let’s play one more game before we leave. They absolutely just love it. There’s such a friendship between them now because they’ve played so much baseball together. They’re truly like brothers out there. It’s just morphed into something special.”
Medders said the support the team received for the World Series was tremendous, with a big crowd turning out for the championship game.
“I was amazed on Saturday, and we’d been down there since Wednesday, how many friends, cousins and family members drove down from back home, just to come down and watch them play in the semifinals and the championship game,” Medders said. “That’s when you know when you have something really special.”
As for the parents, Medders said they’re a special group.
“We took a group picture of us winning by the scoreboard,” Medders said. “And we took one with all the parents, because they are such a huge part it. Any time of baseball, especially travel ball attached to it, that means commitment right there.”
PLAYERS: Devon Murphy, Trey Cook, Ty Medders, Reed Morris, Cole Garner, Daylon Teasley, Cam Long, Haven Hartage, Seth Stargell and CJ Stephens
COACHES: Chip Medders, Lance Morris, Ricky Cook and Craig Garner
TEAM NOTES: Troup baseball finished with a 56-13 record during the 2016-2017 season, and it won seven tournaments and finished second once. Troup finished with a number 15 ranking in the country in the USSSA.