The Greenville 13U Babe Ruth team is World Series bound.
The team will travel to the Prep League Babe Ruth World Series Aug. 8-15 in Westfield, Mass., and confidence is high about the outcome.
"I think we have a good shot," head coach Hunter Cannon said of his team's trip. "We have a solid team. Pitching-wise, it really doesn't get much better at the 13-year old level. These guys can consistently throw the ball over the plate for strikes. That's hard to come by, even in the high school level, but these guys are able to do it at 13, and our defense has been really good as of late. The bats are there, but the pitchers and the defense have been what's impressed me most."
The team defeated Williamsburg, Va., 1-0 on July 27 in Williamsburg to advance to the World Series.
"When we scored that first run, I breathed a little bit better, but not much," Cannon said of the win. "Then I looked up and it was the bottom of the seventh. I looked at Cody Cyrus, one of our assistant coaches and said, 'We're three outs from a World Series.' He looked at me and I looked at him, and it didn't feel like it at all because it had went by so quick. Colin Woolard pitched a phenomenal game, he threw seven complete innings without breaking 60 pitches. That game just went by so quick, and the only thing I could do when the final was recorded, I couldn't help but throw my hands up. I couldn't really celebrate until we were holding that banner."
He added that during his playing days, many of his teams were coached by his father, which has helped his transition into coaching.
"My dad was my head coach my whole life," Cannon said. "I was raised with an old-school mentality. I'm hard-nosed, and that has certainly helped me as I go into the coaching sector of things, just not being soft with the boys. You have to remember, while they are 13, they are young men, and they are still expected to do jobs on the field."
A new experience and a new atmosphere could provide distractions both on and off the field, but Cannon is prepared to help keep his team focused.
"I think it's important for us as coaches to keep everyone in the dugout focused," he said. "For the players on the field, it's not hard to stay focused, but for the guys in the dugout, if they're engaged in the game just as much as the guys on the field, they can really pick up on stuff. They can figure out pitcher tendencies and the timing to the plate. Getting the guys all on the same page is what's important."
While the team will be focused during the games, Cannon has time built in for players and their parents to explore the area.
"Thankfully, I'll have team moms who will be on the flight up there with us as well," Cannon said. "All of my parents are phenomenal. I couldn't ask for a better group of parents who help me with everything outside of coaching. With the format of the World Series, and having pool play, there are off days. We plan on fully taking advantage of those days. We have two games at the start and then an off day, so we'll find something fun for the kids to do on that day."
The team will depart from Greenville early on Aug. 6, taking a bus to RDU for the flight to Massachusetts.
To help support fundraising efforts for the team or to donate to the team's Go Fund Me account, visit the group's Facebook page by searching 2019 13U Greenville Babe Ruth All-Stars.
Contact Jake Keator at email@example.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @JakeKeatorDR on Twitter.