Fluvanna U8 baseball team plays hard in Florida

By Duncan Nixon, Correspondent

The Fluvanna under age 8 (U8) boys’ baseball team recently finished second in the state competition to qualify for the South Region tournament in Ocala, Fla. Finishing in second place is an excellent result and required that the team beat out teams with much larger population bases, such as Glen Allen and Arlington.

Because the South Region tournament was scheduled to be played so far away, not all the boys’ families had the resources to travel that far. It costs a lot of money to take 13 boys and their coaches to Florida. Therefore, there was considerable fundraising required. A long-toss cornhole event brought in $400, and the four-day fundraising effort collected roughly $10,000, according to chief fundraiser Matt Dickerson. With sufficient funding in hand, the Fluvanna U8 boys’ baseball team was off to the South Region tournament.

According to Easton Loving, the team’s head coach, the Region tournament is set up much like the recently completed World Cup soccer event. There are four pools of four teams each. In each pool the teams compete in a round robin, with each team playing the other three teams in the pool. The top two teams from each pool advance to a win-or-go-home knock-out stage of eight teams. Half of the teams are eliminated in pool play, but all teams get to play at least three games.

The Fluvanna team did exceptionally well. In the pool play, Fluvanna won all three games. They beat Winterville, a team out of the Greenville, N.C., area, 10-2 in their July 15 opener. The next day they squeezed past SWA Select from the Nashville area by a 3-2 score. On Friday, they were down 5-0 after three innings but rallied impressively to top the host Ocala team 11-5. Unfortunately, in the win-or-go-home quarterfinals the Fluvanna squad fell 1-4 to Oak Leaf of Jacksonville, Fla.

Dickerson said that the players on the Fluvanna team are Jake Trent, Jake McCall, Micah Vogt, Landon Yellets, Caden Marshall, Keen Dickerson, Austin Martin, Tyler Custer, Brady Lounsbury, Jacob Loving, Asher Barnett, Dawson Raines and Trevor Almond. The head coach is Easton Loving, who is assisted by Joe Trent, Walter Wimberly and Jason Barnett.

Loving said that the players on the Fluvanna team were selected by the U8 league coaches from the rosters of the six teams in the Fluvanna County U8 league. Each team had a roster of at least 10 players. Accordingly, all the players on the team are from Fluvanna County. The coach noted that the parents of the players have been tremendous in supporting the efforts of the team to develop the players and to raise money to take them to the Region tournament. He also said that the coaches have received valuable help from Fluco varsity baseball players.

Loving also pointed out that the last time the Fluvanna U8 team had this type of success was when the current Fluvanna High varsity players, who have been quite successful, were in the U8 age category. Loving said that for some players this will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience that they will always remember. Many of the players said that they enjoyed being in Florida and being able to play baseball with their friends.

Austin Martin played second base and commented that he made some good fielding plays. Jacob Loving said that he did not have any big hits in Florida, but had two home runs in State qualifying play. Caden Marshall played catcher and said he threw out some runners at first on balls hit in front of the plate. At this age, the ball is pitched by a machine, not by the players, so the “pitcher” and catcher are basically fielders. Landon Yellets, the team’s shortstop, said that he “got on safe more than he got out.”

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