MILDRED — It was wild. It was crazy. It was Blooming Grove bedlam.
And that’s putting it mildly.
Imagine a pack of 8-year-olds jumping and screaming and storming the plate all at once, leaping toward the heavens in joy.
And the kid who jumped the highest? That was Melvin Watkins — the team’s coach.
But you wouldn’t have known it Thursday night when Watkins and his kids won the 8-and-under machine pitch district title at Mildred, where they scored seven runs in the top of the sixth and final inning to put away the Canton Rangers, 25-17.
Machine pitch has a seven-run per inning limit and the Lions took an 18-17 lead into the top of the sixth, so once they reached 25 the game was over.
They arrived in style.
The Lions scored four runs with only one out and loaded the bases for Elijah Rios, who ended the game with a bases-clearing drive. Rios would have had a grand slam walk-off, but even though he scored, the run didn’t count.
No one cared.
The Blooming Grove kids went crazy in a wild celebration at the plate. No one jumped higher than Watkins, who led the charge to the plate to greet Rios as bedlam in Blooming Grove took over the diamond.
“I was so excited I hyperventilated. I had to grab a hat and breath into it,’’ said Watkins, who ran to the plate jumping and leaping for joy. “This is awesome, just awesome.’’
He felt that way about the victory and his kids.
“These kids have been together since they were 4,’’ he said. “And this is fourth trip to state in five years, and our third in a row.’’
But this one is special.
“They are the most awesome team I’ve ever coached,’’ Watkins said. “They are the cardiac kids. They will drive you up the wall. I’ve been coaching for 30 years, and this is my best team.’’
Six kids have been together for the entire five-year run with Watkins. They’re not the dirty dozen (although they do get dirty, diving and running hard and sliding like there’s no tomorrow).
Ya gotta love em. They will slide right into your heart.
Call them the Hustling Half-dozen.
The six core kids are Kelton Bell, who had two hits and made some remarkable plays at third, Gabrial Watkins, who had three hits and looked like Roberto Alomar at second base during the entire tournament, Garris Goff, who played the infield and outfield and had four hits in the title game, shortstop Devon Hood, who had three hits including a huge two-run double in the sixth inning, catcher Camden Gorbet, who had four hits, including a single to lead off the sixth, and Rios, who played first base like he was born to be there and then belted out four hits against Canton, including the game-winner.
But this win belonged to everyone. Brayden Harwell, who had a monster game Wednesday, driving in five runs, had two more hits in the title game. Timmy Hamilton had four hits, including an RBI double in the sixth. Adrian Batson had three hits and a big base hit in the sixth, and Brody Boyd had three hits and scored three runs.
Canton had beaten Blooming Grove, 21-19, in a wild game Wednesday to force the title game showdown, and the kids from Blooming Grove bounced back with an impressive win to advance to the state tournament in Brownwood.
They trailed 8-4 and 14-10 before taking over with a five-run fourth inning and holding Canton scoreless (a rare feat in machine pitch) in the bottom of the fourth as Bell made two brilliant plays at third and Rios ended the inning with a highlight play, forcing the runner at second base with a laser throw to Watkins.
The Lions added three in the fifth and held on to a one-run lead heading into the final inning.
Coach Watkins told his kids if they scored seven runs Canton wouldn’t get a chance to bat, and they came through.
“We told them that we don’t want to play defense again,’’ Watkins said. “When we got to the top of our lineup and didn’t have any outs I knew we were going to get the seven runs.’’
Watkins had nothing but praise for the Canton kids, who were led by Graham Fabri, who had three hits, including a homer, Rex Baldwin, who had two hits and a homer, and Andrew Huddle, who also hit a home run.
“That is the best team we have ever played,’’ Watkins said. “They were fighters and their coaches were a class act.’’
Watkins, who was helped by coaches Brett Bell and Trevor Boyd, was soaked with the celebration water barrel dumping, but he was so happy he didn’t care.
His kids embraced each other and the moment, dancing on the diamond in jubilation, and literally dancing when the PA started playing “The Cha Cha Slide.’’
They laughed and danced and laughed some more.
And then coach Watkins joined them.
It was quite a sight, all those 8-year-olds dancing on the diamond — including the kid who is 55.
MILDRED — It was wild. It was crazy. It was Blooming Grove bedlam.
GC Softball: Playoff Time
There were some bumps on the road and slides in the standings and a few bruises along the way, but five Golden Circle teams have reached the softball playoffs that begin with first round games on Thursday.
For Corsicana it was a wakeup call during the second half of district play that gave the Tigers the push they needed, and for Mildred it was the culmination of yet another splendid season as the Lady Eagles made the playoffs for the fifth straight season. Blooming Grove is back again, a regular in post season play with a chance to make a run, and Hubbard begins its quest to get to the state tournament and Austin with a one-game playoff on Thursday against Itasca in Italy.
Navarro Softball: Bulldogs split with Kilgore, win final home game
Kristen Ahearn was mad, steaming.
Even her peanut butter and jelly sandwich that she ate between the doubleheader games didn't taste good. Nothing fit. Nothing was in sync. Nothing felt right or even tasted right.
Then Ahearn found the cure.
Simple enough: Just go out and blast a three-run homer.
That's the short version of what happened Tuesday at Navarro College, where Ahearn's three-run bomb ignited the Bulldogs in the second game against Kilgore and Navarro went on to win 8-5 to close out its regular season with a bang and a smile from Ahearn.
GC Baseball: Kerens beats Cayuga 5-1, wins first district title since 1981
The wait is over.
And it came just in time for Brett Anderson, who left it all on the mound Tuesday night at Kerens, where he pitched a masterpiece to lead the Bobcats over Cayuga, 5-1, and help the program win its first baseball district title since 1981.
“I've got no gas left. I'm out,'' said Anderson, a senior lefty who stopped Cayuga cold, holding the three-time defending district champs to just three singles while striking out 14.
GC Basebal Roundup: Corsicana blasts Jacksonville; BG wins huge district game
The Corsicana Tigers wrapped up district play with a dominating 9-0 win over the Jacksonville Indians behind Trevor Nolen, who shut out the Indians and allowed only one hit over 6 1/3 innings. Donovan Fields came on to retire the final two hitters. The Tiger pitchers limited the Indians to only 25 plate appearances in the game and no runner to reach third base.
Rodeo: Navarro County Derrick Days -- Burton is back
Professional rodeo entertainer Ronald Burton returns to the Navarro County Exposition Center April 25-26 to entertain the crowd at the 2014 Navarro County Derrick Days Pro Rodeo.
Huggins to call shots at Derrick Days Rodeo
West Huggins will serve as the announcer for the 2014 Navarro County Derrick Days Pro rodeo. The Gardendale native is the reigning three-time United Professional Rodeo Association Announcer of the Year.
Dill gets 300th win in Navarro baseball sweep of Bossier Parish
Navarro baseball’s weekend in Louisiana was significant on a number of fronts. On one hand, coach Whoa Dill notched his 300th win. On the other, and perhaps more importantly, the Bulldogs simply continued to play well. The Bulldogs swept Bossier Parish to move 14-11 in Region XIV East Zone play, and 27-17 overall.
Mildred sending five to regional track meet
Sasha Ballard set a school record in the 800 meters and paced a contingent of five Mildred thinclads heading to Stephenville for the regionals later this week.
Kerens boys grab four gold medals at area track meet
Tavion Hall and Jalon Moss each snared a pair of gold medals as Kerens boys finished second at their area track meet last week with 88 points.
Area schedule for the week
Here's a look at this week's schedule for Golden Ciircle teams and Navarro College. The schedule does not include upcoming bi-district playoff games in softball because times and sites have yet to be determined.
- More Sports Headlines
- GC Softball: Playoff Time