Courtesy of a second place finish in the Dixie Youth North Carolina State Baseball Tournament that wrapped up on Monday, the Reidsville Recreation All-Stars are one of just 16 teams from the southeastern United States to earn a coveted spot in the World Series, which will be held in Ruston, Louisiana from July 26-30.
The team, which is comprised of boys 8 and under, is a mix of former Reidsville Recreation Department players and Luckies team members that came together to form the All-Stars.
The boys closed out the regular season with a record of 5-2 and then went on to qualify with a tourney record of 3-1 as a runner up to Hope Mills in the Dixie Youth North Carolina State Tournament which was held at Oak Island last Saturday through Monday. Hope Mills, the first place winner, was the only other team in the state to qualify for the Dixie Youth World Series.
Now Reidsville head coach Andy Gengler says his team is eager to show the rest of the country what his boys can do on a national stage.
“We’ve already shown North Carolina, now we want to show the rest of the country what Reidsville can do. It’s the top two in the whole state of North Carolina. Nobody had our names on the radar,” said Gengler.
The coach-pitched league is an organization that doesn’t allow steals or bunts, but it is a competitive brand of baseball which has been popular nation-wide for more than half a century.
Dixie Youth Baseball crowned its first champion in 1956 and just three teams from North Carolina have ever won the World Series — Columbus County in 1993, Hope Mills in 2006 and Lumberton in 2010.
Based on the grit his team showed in the state tournament, the Reidsville coaching staff has the kids believing they have as good a chance as any team to bring home a title.
“They are excited. For kids at this age, it the same as it is for kids that are 18, 19 or 20 that get to play in the College World Series. For them, it’s like the first time a college basketball team makes it to the Final Four. It’s similar to that for these kids. To get to do something like this, it is memories these kids will hold onto for a lifetime. It’s a big deal for Reidsville,” the coach said.
Gengler, who has been coaching youth baseball for six years, says that his team plans to take the lessons learned at the state tournament and apply them to practice in the coming weeks.
“We know the things that we’ve got to work on and these kids know it and they are ready to get it done. They know that on Monday, we’ve got to start working on hitting and working on defense and they are ready to go get it,” said Gengler.
The head coach and assistant coach Scott Strader, who also manages the league, both said that there is plenty of work to do both on and off of the field as well as they are gear up to organize finances for the trip.
“It’s not cheap, so we are planning a variety of fundraisers and raffles to help raise the money. We’ve got to pay for charter buses and hotel rooms, so we’ve got some work to do, but we’ve had people and organizations that are contributing. The City of Reidsville has been great and has shown us a lot of support as well. Everyone is excited though. This is a big deal. To take a team from the little town of Reidsville down to the World Series is something special,” Strader said.
The coaches said they are planning on creating a Facebook page for the team in the immediate future so fans can follow the boys as they prepare for the series. In addition, Strader said he is going to set the team up on Score Stream, a popular sports ap that the majority of high school teams nation-wide use, so that fans will be able to follow the games in real time.
The World Series will be played at the Rushton Sports Complex in Rushton, Louisiana. Reidsville is scheduled to play a team from South Carolina in the first round on July 26.
For more information on the series or to make a contribution, contact Gengler at 336-337-3818 or email email@example.com. You can also contact Strader at 336-932-0937.