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Hartselle American Legion claims second at Junior State

The Hartselle U15 American Legion baseball team took home second place after hosting the Junior State Tournament last weekend.

Many of the games were played at the newly improved practice field at Hartselle High School, which now has fencing, stands and a netted backstop.

The 15 rising ninth graders were coached by Jay Chittam starting in February. They played over 50 games in the time that they were together, including about 30 games in June. The runner-up finish in last weekend’s tournament marked the end of the road for the team.

The Junior State Tournament featured 11 teams from all over Alabama. Sixteen teams had been planned in the tournament, but four dropped out the Thursday night before and one dropped out Friday.

Chittam said he was very proud of the team’s overall performance.

“They played very well throughout the tournament,” Chittam said. “They had one bad inning in the championship game that cost them. Minor differences could have changed the tournament outcome, but they did a good job. They are a young group, but I can tell that if they stay dedicated, they will mature and be a very special, athletic group. I think good things will happen for them.”

Chittam applauded their dedication throughout their season together.

“They faced a tough schedule of games, playing a freshman or sophomore schedule,” Chittam said. “They never complained even through the rough heat they faced. They were challenged both physically and mentally to stay focused, but they were outstanding.”

This team is meant to prepare these athletes for a future on the Hartselle High School baseball team.

“It’s more about development and teaching them the game of baseball than it is about wins and losses right now,” Chittam said.

The team beat Pickens County in a double header 13-5 and 12-1 during pool play Friday. They went on to beat Dothan 16-4 Saturday before losing to Troy 12-3 in the championship Sunday.

Andy Lamb and Tyler Cartee helped lead the team offensively throughout the tournament. Lamb went 7-for-13 with two RBIs, and Cartee finished 6-for-11 with two RBIs. Stone Powell performed well in pool play and finished 5-for-14 for the weekend while racking up five RBIs. Drew Nix went 4-for-7 and added five RBIs. Braxton Peck went 5-for-10, and Mac Meyer went 4-for-11 with six RBIs.

Tournament pitchers included Nix, Meyer, Nick Walker, Greyson Bray and Aidan Poole. Other team members include Luke Godsey, Jacob Pittman, Will Stephenson, Adam Hampton, Eason Mizell and Conner Tumlinson.

Hartselle had a slow start against Troy in the championship, not scoring until the third inning, but Troy answered quickly with eight crossing the plate in the second inning after batting through their line-up. Hartselle struggled to answer with two more scores in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough to catch up with Troy who continued to scatter runs throughout the remaining innings.

The team is made up of all Hartselle students, although they play teams that are generally made up of teams from two or three schools.

“Our team comes solely from Hartselle, and they are playing at a very high level,” Chittam said. “I think their success says a lot about the talent we have here. We are working with local homegrown Hartselle kids that play their hearts out in the heat and represent Hartselle. They handled themselves very well and did nothing but bring honor to our town.”

Members of the Hartselle U15 American Legion baseball team warm up for a game during the Junior State tournament at the Hartselle High School practice field over the weekend.| Special to the Enquirer
Members of the Hartselle U15 American Legion baseball team warm up for a game during the Junior State tournament at the Hartselle High School practice field over the weekend.| Special to the Enquirer
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