The dedication of coach Billy Brisson to his 12U Dixie Majors All-Star and league champion Auto Xpress squads wasn’t just relegated to the baseball field. It extended to the other areas of his players’ lives as well, and while Scotland County Parks and Recreation didn’t require the additional effort, Brisson felt it was his duty as coach to attempt to make the biggest possible impact on their lives.
“I’d follow up with each of my kid’s grades and behavior at school, because while this league was very competitive, it was about respecting one another and learning teamwork at a young age,” said Brisson, whose Auto Xpress team went 10-1 during Dixie Youth regular season. “I wanted to learn manners and sportsmanship, but also not forget to smile. It’s about helping society out in our own way as parents I suppose.”
Six players from the Auto Xpress squad were a part of the Dixie Majors All-Stars, who were in action last weekend for the District Nine tournament featuring the surrounding counties. The kids who comprised the team practiced twice a day for nine days straight following the regular season in preparation for the tournament. And while his players put forth “110 percent effort”, Brisson’s All-Stars were eliminated from tournament contention after surrendering two straight losses over the course of the weekend.
The first game was played Friday night, and featured the All-Stars facing off against West Robeson National. William Brisson and Bruce Wall went 2-3 on the evening, while Caleb Miles was a perfect 1-1 from the plate. But the star of the night for Scotland County Parks and Recreation was Steven Wallace, who blasted a three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning to help mount a minor All-Star comeback. Wallace had his home run ball returned to him immediately following the game from District Nine Commissioner Carl Newkirk.
However, West Robeson National prevented the All-Stars’ rally and sealed the 9-5 victory. And though Miles and Brisson each continued their hot hitting by going 1-1 in Saturday’s game against Elizabethtown, the All-Stars went down by a score of 9-1 to end their weekend early.
“This team put in a 110 percent effort, so there’s no shame in losing the way we did,” Brisson said. “They didn’t lose via the mercy rule, and even in defeat these kids handled themselves well. That’s all you can ask for as a coach.”
Coached by Howard Caulder, the Lighthouse Ministries 10u boys squad capped off an 11-1 season with a win over Cuddly Care to secure the Dixie Minor championship. Several members of that team will be part of the Dixie Minor All-Stars, also coached by Caulder, who will begin play in their District Nine tournament this Friday evening.
The central thing that Caulder has stressed to the kids under his watch is the mastery of fundamentals, something that they can carry with them should they continue their playing career above and beyond this year. And no matter the outcome this weekend, Caulder will see this tournament as a success should he see his kids play the game the way it was meant to be played.
“They need to know what to do with the ball when it comes to you, no matter if they achieve first place or not,” said Caulder, who will have approximately seven players from his 2012 regular season team returning next year. “If nothing else, I hope these kids remember that there’s a right and a wrong way to play this game.”