Troopers win back-to-back titles
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
They Game On Troopers are flying high.
The 10-and-under youth baseball team has won two consecutive tournaments, including one last weekend in Valley.
“We’ve been on fire the last couple of weeks,” said Jake Hembree, the team’s head coach. “It’s definitely been a very rewarding two weeks.”
The first of the back-to-back titles came in Macon, with the Troopers taking the championship with a perfect record.
The tournament title came after the Troopers returned to action following a lengthy layoff because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We came back and played a tournament in Macon and went 4-0,” Hembree said. “We were not expecting it.”
The Troopers followed that up with a winning performance in Valley, and they beat Tri City Dream in the championship game.
The Troopers lost one game in pool play to earn the title shot.
“This last weekend, we jumped in a tournament with some really high-end teams and ended up in the championship due to run differential and played one of the top teams in AAA and beat them 8-5 in the final,” Hembree said. “It was exciting, just to see the joy on those kids’ faces when they go in and beat a team that beat us previously 8-0 in our first tournament.”
The team was created a little more than a year ago, and there were some struggles at the start as wins were hard to come by.
While the results weren’t there, the players and coaches were committed to improving, and now the results are there.
“We’ve practiced every Tuesday and Thursday for 2 ½ hours,” Hembree said. “We’ve been doing that for a long time. They’re finally seeing all that hard work come to life. We put them in Cory Matticolagame situations as much as we can. When they get squeezed, it’s just a reaction to do the right thing.”
Hembree appreciates the support provided by his fellow coaches, Cory Matticola, Drew Hagler and Todd Mitchell.
“Without them, we wouldn’t be near to where we are right now,” Hembree said.