The Richmond Hill Recreation Association just completed regular season play for baseball and softball. The seasons ended with a round-robin tournament for all the teams in order to crown champions for each of its eight divisions.
The divisions are separated by four age groups and by gender.
In the final round of the 14 and under boys tournament, Mitch Huggins’ Marlins beat Keith Real’s Pirates 16-14.
Huggins said his team "worked together great". He said they started out slow as he was fine-tuning which position each should play, but "they all found their niche".
He said the Marlins were on a hot streak the week prior to the tournament with four wins within a 7-day span. Huggins attributes much of his team’s success to having four strong pitchers and to the guidance from assistant coaches Mark and Matt Walden.
Marianne Smith’s Braves edged Mark Walden’s Cardinals 17-2 to take the top spot in the 17 and under girls division.
Smith commented there were several players on her team, including pitcher Jennifer Smith and the versatile Heather Vaccaro, who have a strong potential to make an impact on the upcoming RHHS varsity and junior varsity seasons.
She credits the team’s determination as a deciding factor in their championship win as "it all boils down to how bad you want it."
The 12 and under boys bracket was dominated by Kerry Teston’s Diamond Backs who blanked Scott Davis’s Cardinals 5-0.
Teston, who is in his rookie year as a coach, said he "got a really good group of kids" and attributes much of the season’s success to the potent pitching power of Chase Gill and Jared Gibson.
Andy Jennings’ 12 and under girls Braves team ended the season by beating their rivals, Robin Spell’s Diamond Backs, 18-12 in a hard-fought final round.
Jennings team sustained a 9-3 season record with their three losses all attributed to the Diamond Backs. It was only fitting the two teams would duke it out in the division’s last stand.
Jennings said he gave his team a pep talk prior to the big tournament. "I reinforced that the goal of recreation department sports is to have fun and to learn," said Jennings. "I told them we’d had a lot of fun and we learned a lot – now let’s win this thing. They got the eye of the tiger after that and catapulted toward the championship."
For 10 and under boys, Dwight Winters’ Blue Jays defeated Jeff Glazer’s Marlin’s 7-2.
Winters said the season started out slow. "We lost our first game 5 to zip, and a couple players quit in the beginning," he said.
Winters said the team lost a few more games along the way and beat the odds in winning the division title as they had fewer players than the other teams. He credits the strength of the players he did have as a deciding factor.
The 10 and under girls Marlins, coached by Tonyah Rogers, narrowly beat the Blue Jays, coached by RHRA President Sanford Carter, in a 7-6 final round game.
Rogers said she is extremely proud of her team for working so hard throughout the season and for good team work. She added the team was a mix of already talented players and rookies who are already finding their footing in the sport.
Bart Grizzard’s 8 and under boys Marlins beat Arnold Singleton’s Rangers 16-10 in the division final.
Grizzard said his team only lost 2 and tied 1 throughout the season and his players "really gelled and played well together."
The 8 and under girls final round saw some stiff competition which ended with Lisa Larson’s Marlins gaining a 10-9 victory over Merri Lyn Pearson’s Cardinals.
Larson said she had "an exceptional group of youngsters who really advanced since we started." She credits assistant coaches Chris Kalinowsky and Lance Garrett who stepped up to the plate to help her when she had to miss some games in order to attend functions commemorating her late husband, BCSD Sergeant Michael Larson.
With the regular season now over, All-Star teams for each division are now being formed in order to compete with other area All-Star teams with a goal of the state championship in mind.
Hendrix Park will also have All-Star teams.