On the road to Alabama
Two youth baseball teams from the Heart of Virginia began their trek to Oxford, Alabama the past two days, forging a path to their first World Series appearances in the history of their leagues.
The Buckingham County Youth League (BCYL) Majors All-Star team and the Prince Edward-Farmville Youth Association (PEFYA) Minors All-Star squad will both begin play Saturday, each representing Virginia in their respective World Series tournaments.
Each team will also be taking on its counterpart from Arkansas. PEFYA will play at 6:45 p.m. EST, while Buckingham will play at 9 p.m. EST.
Players and coaches from both the BCYL and PEFYA squads have been busy preparing the past two weeks, practicing and working to raise funds.
“This is for the boys,” BCYL Majors Manager Ben Gormus said. “This is for the boys to go down and have a great time — first time. And it’s just a once-in-a-lifetime honor for a small group of boys like we’ve got, and we want them to have the best, the best they can possibly have.”
He said that the team had a lot of fundraisers.
“Our community was just unbelievable in giving,” he said.
Buckingham has practiced every day except for last Thursday, Gormus said, and in these sessions he and his staff have drilled their players with an emphasis on fundamental baseball.
He noted the players were excited for each other and ready to go.
PEFYA Minors Manager Jerry Morgan was in the middle of a fundraiser Wednesday as talked about what his team had been doing on the practice field.
“We worked on some more hitting, tried to fine tune our defense a little bit and work with the outfielders…” he said.
Prince Edward-Farmville’s bullpen grew out of necessity at times during the previous tournaments.
“The kids that contributed that we didn’t expect them to pitch at all, we worked with (them) even more during this week of practice,” Morgan said.
PEFYA’s pitching rotation includes Noah Boehmer, Harold Landis, Austin Morgan, Leighton Folz, Clevante Watkins and Josh Simon.
Manager Morgan noted one rule change at the World Series for which he and his staff have tried to prepare the boys.
“The bat sizes change,” he said. “You can use a big barrel.”
To build his players’ confidence for Alabama, Morgan has reminded them of their epic 23-22 win in the district tournament in which they came back from being down 12 runs in the final inning.
“I said, ‘Look,’ I said, ‘If y’all can do that, y’all can do anything,’” Morgan said.
He said he has also told his players that what comes next is all about having fun, win or lose.