The team will represent North Carolina in the World Series next month.

Coach Frank Gerrell knows not to mess with a good thing.

After his Hope Mills American baseball team won the Junior Dixie Boys state tournament, a division for 13-year-olds, last year, he knew he wanted to keep the team together.

“Once we won the state last year, we decided as a group — parents and coaches — to make this a travel team,” Gerrell said. “That’s what made us a lot better than last year.”

A year older and more developed as a unit, the Hope Mills American team won the Dixie Boys state tournament, a 14-and-under division, last week.

The team will represent North Carolina in the Dixie Boys World Series in Bluffton, South Carolina, on Aug. 5-9.

The state tournament was held in Winnabow on July 8-12.

Hope Mills American rolled through the double-elimination bracket, winning in five straight games by an average margin of 11 runs.

Gerrell says the team of 12 players is strong all around and boasts a particular deep pool of pitching.

“I have a lot of players that can pitch, but I’ve got three kids that can dominate,” he says. “So I kind of ride my horses if I have to.”

While the team plays together on the travel circuit, the roster is pulled from multiple regular-season teams in Hope Mills’ Dixie baseball league.

Hope Mills American is enjoying the remainder of the week off before returning to practice next week, a benefit of the familiarity bred over time.

“I’m giving them time to rest,” Gerrell says. “Two weeks will be plenty of time for them to get back into the swing of it again.”

West Fayetteville repeats

West Fayetteville won its fifth straight Dixie Majors state championship July 12.

The competition for the state title in the Majors division, for players 17-19, has been a three-team race between West Fayetteville, Duplin County and Gastonia in recent years.

This year’s tournament was held at North Brunswick High School.

West Fayetteville won three straight games, beating Duplin County and Gastonia by 10-0 margins in the first two rounds before holding off Duplin County for a 5-4 win in the final.

The team will represent North Carolina in the Majors World Series in Monroe, Lousiana. West Fayetteville opens play against Arkansas on July 29.

 

Community sports writer Jaclyn Shambaugh can be reached at jshambaugh@fayobserver.com or 609-0651.