Teamwork leads to state title

Published 3:45 pm Monday, July 2, 2018

The field of competition at the 2018 Dixie Boys 15U State Tournament in Charlotte Court House could not overcome the strength of an all-star team that included standouts from both Prince Edward and Charlotte counties.

The Charlotte County All-Star squad, featuring seven Prince Edward players, went 4-0 during the tourney, outscoring its opponents 39-6.

The team will return to action for the 2018 Dixie Boys 15U World Series in Ozark, Alabama. That event will run July 19-22.

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The state tournament, held at Randolph-Henry High School’s Bankston Field, featured 15-and-under all-star teams from Bedford, Buckingham, Carroll, Charlotte and Halifax counties and Madison Heights.

“The thing is the kids are resilient,” Charlotte County All-Stars Manager Jeff Rapole said of his players. “We have a great pitching staff, and our defense is on point. Only giving up a few runs, as we did in the tournament, it’s very impressive. The boys just play well together. They’re a great group of kids, probably the best I’ve ever coached.”

Running Friday through Sunday, the state tourney started with pool play before transitioning Saturday into single-elimination play.

Charlotte opened its run with an 8-0 victory over Bedford on Friday.

On Saturday, Charlotte topped Madison Heights 9-1. The two teams faced each other again Sunday morning in single-elimination play, and Charlotte won 5-1.

“Jake Simon pitched the whole game against Madison Heights this morning,” Rapole said Sunday, praising one of his Prince Edward players. “He finished the game with 101 pitches today.”

The Charlotte County All-Star team faced Carroll County in the state championship and won 17-4.

“Brenden Francisco was a big help to us today,” Rapole said. “He was another great pitcher for us.”

Johnny Ray Holman, of Prince Edward, also pitched, and Rapole closed the game with Camron Smith.

As for who was key in producing the 17 runs, Rapole said, “Honestly, the whole team. They were just beating on the ball today. It was just a good day all around.”

The manager expressed gratitude to all of the team’s supporters.

“Everybody in the community has helped,” he said.

The World Series will feature pool play followed by double-elimination play.