The Dixie system has flaws
By By Todd Thompson, Hartselle Enquirer
Two Hartselle Dixie Boys teams finished the 2008 season as state runners-up last weekend after losing in the Dixie Junior and Dixie Boys state championship series.
The Hartselle 13 team was swept in the best two-of-three championship series by AUM Green, while the Hartselle 14 teams lost twice to Auburn in the final.
Certainly these are tremendous accomplisments for both teams. Simply reaching the championship series is something special that few teams can ever experience.
But now almost a week after the season has ended and teams have put up the equipment for the rest of the summer, one huge question remains. Were the two Hartselle teams facing opponents on a level playing field?
Hartselle’s two all-star teams were culled from six teams in the 13-14 league this year, with the all-stars being split by age groups.
The roster selections can often be debated, especially with the late picks that fill out a roster, but both teams’ coaches put together solid teams that could challenge for state championships.
That scenario isn’t always the case for other teams around the state who don’t field five or more teams in their leagues.
In the Dixie Boys’ 14-year-old division, Auburn concluded its season with a perfect tournament record. But the team’s overall record was probably much higher.
Auburn - and other Dixie programs throughout the state - often don’t have enough teams to fill out a league schedule. Instead, these communities select an all-star team months in advance and those players compete in travel ball against teams from other areas.
It’s hard to compete with teams that have been playing together for four months or more. Both Hartselle teams found that out last weekend when they took the field in Selma.
Auburn and AUM Green didn’t break any Dixie Baseball rules. Communities can play travel ball if they don’t have a league schedule.
But that leaves an unequal playing field for communities like Hartselle.
And that’s a shame.
Sports editor Todd Thompson can be reached at 773-6566 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org