The 2019 summer baseball season is officially over and the Loudon Diamond Club is taking time to reflect on a historic season.
The 6u and 8u Loudon All-Stars dropped three consecutive games over the weekend in the Tennessee Dixie Youth Baseball State Tournament.
“They were both three-and-out, but they played well,” Kent Russell, club president, said. “It’s just the level of play when you get that high is just tremendous. Both teams played really well.”
Russell credits both teams for never giving up, despite the differences in talent level.
“6u had a couple of close games,” he said. “They kept it pretty tight. I got to see their third game. Both of them had an issue making that third out, but would get the first two pretty quick.”
Derwin Collis, 6u All-Stars head coach, was pleased with his team’s performance against some of the top teams in the state — Dyersburg, Lewis County and Greensboro.
Although the team did not advance out of pool play, Collis believes it was a good experience.
“We went 0-for-3, but we did good,” he said. “It was tough and they were well-coached. It was a great experience for our kids and it was a good learning experience for them. None of them wanted to go home; they all wanted to keep going. Maybe next year.”
The 8u All-Stars also struggled in pool play, falling to the likes of Portland and runners-up Dickson County.
However, the team showed resiliency and fought to the end in every game.
“8u wound up in a bracket with two really good teams, so they had some issues,” Russell said. “At the end of their third game, even though they got beat pretty bad in the third one, they wound up scoring three runs on them. I mean, they were way down and didn’t just give up. They fought. They just found something extra and came back and scored on a team ... when I left, they were the only team that had scored on them.”
Despite falling short in the tournament, the 2019 season will be a year to remember.
“Oh yeah, no question it’s historic,” Russell said. “All the baseball players are going to Dixie Youth now, softball’s going in a good direction and this year has been tremendous. There’s been very few problems, nothing major. Just things here and there that we learned from. We still learn every day and it’s just been a tremendous year. I’m just very proud of all my kids. I haven’t had anybody that’s just laid down and quit. They’ve all been fighters. Traditionally, Loudon kids have been known as fighters. We’re generally the smaller team, smaller school, and they compete on a level that they shouldn’t really be able to compete on.”
“I’ll always remember this,” Collis added. “This was a good one. This was a good year. Kids learned stuff and they grew over the season, and I look forward to next season.”
A majority of athletes from teams this season will stay together, which leads Russell to believe next year could be more special.
“I think we’d like to have another team in each of the older two age groups — the 10u and the 12u,” he said. “We’d like to see that happen and I think we will because now we’ve got kids that are playing right below that level. Instead of coming from 0-8, they’re going be coming from 7-8. They see what’s happening, and I think we’ll retain more kids. The 9-10 age is where they go into player-pitch, and that’s where we lose a lot of kids. We’re hoping it’s not going to be such a huge jump for them.”