The Cleveland West team has practiced all month in preparation for the Dixie Youth
Baseball “O” Zone World Series, which will be held at Bear Pen Park, starting Saturday and ending on Aug. 2. The tournament is a 16-team double elimination event featuring teams from Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas, Texas, Virginia, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia and Alabama.
Cleveland West will play the Hope Mills American All-Stars, the State Champions of North Carolina, on Saturday at 6 p.m.
Cleveland West head coach Bill Ryan Tabb said the team has shown a tremendous work ethic in preparation for the event.
“We’ve really just been working hard and trying to get them to gel as a team, and they’ve had some long hard practices,” Tabb said. “Offensively, we’re pretty good. We’ve got some real consistent hitters, and it’s going to be interesting to see how they do against the quality of competition.
“We have some really good pitchers, but we don’t have an dominating pitchers. I’m interested to see how that works out.”
Tabb said the overall strength of the team appears to be on defense.
“We’ve got three really fast kids in the outfield, and our infield defense is stellar,” Tabb said. “We’ve got quality kids in the infield that know what to do when the ball is hit to them.”
Tabb said the tournament will provide a big time atmosphere for the players on their home field.
“We definitely have the home field advantage, but I hope the kids don’t get too nervous as we’ve got to perform in front of all of our friends and family,” Tabb said. “We’ve got some kids that really love the game on this team. They’re ready to play.”
Cleveland West will play a Hope Mills team that has battled in tournaments during the Dixie Youth Baseball season. On Wednesday, Hope Mills defeated Dallas 2-1 to win the Dixie Youth “O” Zone N.C. State Championship. Hope Mills went 5-0 in the tournament to advance to the World Series.
“Not only are we going to face a quality opponent, but they’ve earned their way here,” Tabb said. “They’ve played a lot of games already as a team. I hope our kids will be more mentally prepared than anything else. I feel we’ll be competitive, and hopefully, we can go out and win that game.”
Along with Tabb, David Crowe, Rodney Martin, Jeremy Chatman and Bill Dodd have helped Tabb prepare the players for the tournament this summer. Martin and Crowe will be Tabb’s assistant coaches during the tournament.
Tabb said he is thankful for their help this month.
“I have guys around that love baseball and love teaching the kids,” Tabb added.
The players on the Cleveland West team are: Collins Tabb, Cannon Esch, Cross Crowe, Frank Proctor, Jacob Dodd, Paul O’Neal, Rashad Harbin, Spence Martin, Tanner Tidmore, Tony Davis, Trevor Muzzi and Zach Willingham.