March Madness? Pssh…We've Got Dixie Youth Baseball
With the exception of the tournament hosts, Prince Edward Farmville will be the only organization to be represented in both the Dixie Youth Baseball AAA and Major League State Tournaments in South Hill this weekend.
Of course, since Districts II, IV and V are the only ones out of the seven DYB districts in the state to play the traditional style of Majors baseball, that makes it more possible.
Buckingham came close, but for a late rally by Powhatan American in the District IV Minors Tournament Championship game.
At the beginning of these tournaments, people generally pick a team and based only on what they see on Friday, make a stone-cold prediction on who will win the tournament. Believe it or not, some start to think about a trip to the World Series. A shut-down effort by a hot pitcher can make that person look smart on Friday. By Sunday, it can be an entirely different story.
Case in point, I thought Dinwiddie National was the best team in the District V Majors Tournament last week. Dinwiddie National lost to Dinwiddie American 1-0 on Friday night, but, aided by a bye, quickly recovered. Dinwiddie American proved me wrong. Way wrong – with a slaughter rule victory over their in-county rivals in the tournament semifinals.
Dinwiddie National then defeated Lunenburg in a game to decide who was going to get the No. 3 seed out of the district. The two teams will meet for the third time in the opening round on Friday night, with DA leading “the series” 2-0. As of the third inning of that second game last week, I'm officially out of the prediction business.
It almost feels like there should be a rule against two in-district teams playing one-another in the first round, but with only three districts to choose from, plus a host team, it's impossible not to do so. Here's hoping a couple of districts come back to the traditional fold, though in informal conversations with people who know these kind of things, that doesn't look like how the pendulum is going to swing. I guess a pendulum is a bad analogy, because that suggests there will eventually be a swing back in the other direction. One can hold out hope.
Even so – for now at least – the Majors division isn't but so far off of what it was when all seven districts competed for one championship. Districts II and V have historically been very competitive on the state level, and though people seem to think otherwise for reasons not needing mention, District IV's champion has always been a tough out.
Last year, Buckingham, which is in the Majors field for the fourth-consecutive year, was one of the three teams (along with Goochland and Charlotte County) with one loss in the championship round. Buckingham was the third team into the tournament from District IV, and as such was written off. This is where District IV can point out that 2/3 of the state tournament finalists were teams from that supposed less competitive district.
The truth is that nobody has any idea on how either one of these tournaments are going to turn out between now and next Tuesday or Wednesday. Buckingham was supposed to be two and barbecue last year, but was still playing when the final day rolled around. They had Charlotte County, which would go on to win the title, on the ropes, as the two battled to see which one was going to face Goochland later that night.
That's what makes these games entertaining. All it takes is something like a pitcher getting hot and win a game his team “shouldn't have”. Then, everyone else feeds on that, and confidence goes through the dugout roof. Their bats pick up, defense tightens and the other pitchers on the staff up find an extra MPH or another inch on a 12-6 breaking ball.
Folks in McKenney saw the Prince Edward Farmville team pretty much grow up in front of their eyes in the championship loss to Dinwiddie American. PEFYA was thought to be out of pitching. It was supposed to be another slaughter rule win for Dinwiddie American. Not the case. Dinwiddie American won 7-2, but the PE Farmville All-Stars left the field with the confidence that it could hang with, and maybe even beat, a team that had slaughtered them earlier in the weekend.
PE Farmville will need to continue that growth curve in order to win the tournament, but the bracket is favorable, and there is enough offensive potential in that line-up that the PEFYA All-Stars definitely have a puncher's chance. Then again, the trip could be a short one.
Speaking of offensive firepower. The PE Farmville Minors rolled through the District V Tournament field and left a path of destruction in Sutherland that could stretch to South Hill and possibly on to Bartow, Florida (host of the 2012 DYB World Series) by this time next week.
It's a more crowded field at the AAA level, as all seven districts are represented. Things won't come as easy as they did in the District V Tournament. Seven of the eight teams there have already earned championship trophies. They all know what it takes to win.
Still, PE Farmville didn't get any help from an easy bracket in its district tournament. Slaughter rule victories over Dinwiddie National, Charlotte County and Dinwiddie American on three consecutive nights tells you that they didn't get where they are by accident.
They just don't let up. You know the scene in A Christmas Story where Ralphie turns the tables on Scott Farcas and whales on him until the bully is bloodied and crying for mercy? That's this little group. They jump on you from the beginning and pound and pound – gloves flying – until the Dixie Youth Baseball rule book pulls them off their opponent in the third or fourth inning.
Minus the muffled, salty language, of course.
All that said, it's just as likely they'll be back in town on Sunday morning in time for church as it is for them to be playing at the hotel pool in South Hill.
At this age, the only given is that the hotel pool will be used.
On the diamond, however, things can change as quickly as it takes the shower to get ice cold after all the hot water is gone. What was true on Friday, may or may not be true on Saturday, and will most likely not be true on Wednesday.
Welcome to Dixie Youth Baseball.