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Consistent, resilient success stories

The Prince Edward-Farmville Youth Association (PEFYA) Majors all-star team has done it! The squad, composed of 10 of the 12 boys who reached the World Series as PEFYA Minor League players in 2017, has now reached the World Series at the Major League level.

As they broadcast the 2019 Dixie Youth Baseball Major League State Tournament recently on Kickin’ Country WVHL 92.9 FM, Richard LeSueur and Frank Shanaberger noted that there is a big difference between Minors and Majors. In order to be successful from one level to the next, ballplayers have to step up their games.

Because of this and the talent level present in the other seven teams at the state tourney, I wasn’t sure the boys would be able to reproduce the magic of their 2017 run.

After winning the 2019 District 5 tournament, they opened their state run July 5 against the District 4 tournament winner, the Goochland all-star team, a pairing of district champions that doesn’t usually happen at the start of a state tourney.

Unfortunately, the PEFYA All-Stars fell 10-3, and it looked like they might be headed for an early exit.

On July 6, they faced the Blackstone All-Stars, the team they had just defeated in back-to-back games to win the district title after having lost to them earlier in that tourney. Prince Edward-Farmville won the fourth meeting definitively, 12-2.

On July 7, PEFYA faced the Buckingham All-Stars, the District 4 runners-up, and held a 9-5 lead in the fifth inning when lightning and rain pushed the conclusion of the game until the next day. PEFYA Majors Manager Mark Simon praised his players for playing the rest of the game July 8 with intensity rather than allowing the daylong break to make them lose focus. They needed only 11 minutes to end the game with a 9-5 final score.

Then, to reach the state title game, the Prince Edward-Farmville boys had to face the only remaining undefeated team in the tournament, the Prince George all-star squad — and beat it twice. They won 8-6 on July 9 and 13-4 on July 10.

Because there is more than one division of Dixie Youth Baseball Major League teams this year, both PEFYA and the team it faced in the state title game, the Hopewell All-Stars, are headed for World Series play.

The PEFYA All-Stars clinched their World Series berth with their 13-4 victory July 10, and this was a game played without one of their key leaders — Harold Landis. He injured his elbow while delivering an outstanding pitching performance that made the 8-6 win possible the night before.

Though they missed Landis on the field, his teammates rallied around him, determined to win the July 10 game in his honor.

Simon said that after the victory, he praised his players for their incredible resilience, which has now been demonstrated across multiple years.

“I said, ‘That’s going to make you guys successful men when you get older and you become adults, whether you’re having a family, having a career,’” he said. “I said, ‘Being able to perform and being able to step up when things don’t go your way and when your backs are against the wall, it’s a great quality to have,’ and every single one of them has it.”

The 10 boys who have been part of the 2017 and 2019 World Series-bound teams are Noah Boehmer, Leighton Folz, Sawyer Furlong, M.J. Holman, Jack Jones, Harold Landis, Kam Ligon, Austin Morgan, Josh Simon and Clevante Watkins.

Keontay Booker and Johnny Luhn moved out of the area after the 2017 campaign, but the two new players this year have been outstanding additions, key to making the latest run possible — Khris Ligon and Barrett Motter.

I look forward to seeing what this extraordinary group of boys does at the 2019 Dixie Youth Baseball Division 1 Major League World Series in Ruston, Louisiana. They face the Louisiana all-star team Saturday, Aug. 3, at 3:30 p.m.

TITUS MOHLER is the sports editor for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. His email address is Titus.Mohler@FarmvilleHerald.com.