Covington can now call itself home to a World Series champion.
The Newton County All-Stars Royal 10 and under team took home the trophy at the USSSA Baseball World Series in Gulfport, Mississippi following week-long competition from June 28 to July 3.
With the chance to play on such a big stage, first-game jitters kicked in for the all-stars, causing them to drop their first game to the Monticello All-Stars from Arkansas.
“We just weren’t ourselves the first game,” said head coach Arsenio Nolley. “I actually think we had to lose one game before we locked in. After we got that first game and got all our swimming and playing around out of the way, then we really got focused on baseball.”
The all-stars bounced back, winning their next two games against the Tarpons and the LPR Xtreme from Louisiana.
Then it was time for face Monticello again, and this time Newton County was ready.
“They were by far our closest competition,” Nolley said of Monticello. “We played them three times, and they were all close games.”
The Royal all-stars defeated Monticello back to back, including a 11-7 win in the championship game. Following the win, the all-stars ended the week ranked No. 1 in USSSA points and the 10 and under power rankings.
Two players also came away with individual honors. Kyle Johnson won the home-run derby, while Lorenzo Palmer won the award for being the fastest kid around the bases. The team will also be honored at the Newton County Board of Commission (BOC) meeting on July 19.
While playing for the title, the kids also got a chance to play and enjoy each other’s company with nightly team dinners and frequent trips to the pool.
“We stayed in the pool more than we played baseball,” Nolley said jokingly. “We had great time, and that was the best thing for us. When we were playing baseball and when we weren’t.”
The all-stars are also coached by Dave White, Gino Brown and Richard Hudson. Nolley thanked them, their sponsors, and the Newton County Recreation Commission for their support and help in getting the team to Mississippi.
“They supported us and helped cut our expenses in half,” Nolley said. “It definitely took a community to get us to Mississippi and back. It took a lot of time and money, and there were a lot of people that helped us out.”
With this victory under his belt, Nolley hopes this will encourage more kids to get involved with recreation baseball.
“It kind of puts us on the map a little bit and lets kids know that there is a chance that you can have the opportunity to play in a world series and be a part of something special,” Nolley said. “It’s something that they’ll never forget about. It was like one of the best weeks of my life and I’m an adult, so I can imagine what that feeling is for a kid.”
Also in the World Series in Gulfport was the Newton County Green All-Star 8 and under team. Coached by David York and Tinsley Bailey, along with Shawn Freeman and Billy Conn, the Green all-stars finished the week a 3-4 record and a No. 5 ranking.