Many professional baseball players never get to play in a World Series, but this group of recreation players will get the chance to say they did.
The 12 members of the Newton All-Stars Royal 10 and under team will travel to Gulfport, Mississippi for the Gulf South United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) World Series June 28-July 3. Coached by Arsenio Nolley of the Newton County Recreation Commission, the team had an exciting road to the promised land.
In the sub-state championships held at City Pond Park on June 10-11, the Royal All-Stars went 3-0 against three teams from Walton County to advance to the Georgia USSSA state championships, along with the Green 12 and under and 10 and under Newton County All-Star teams.
In the state championship tournament, held June 18-19 in Locust Grove, the Royal team ended with a 5-1 record to qualify for the World Series, serving as the only Newton County team to advance to the tournament.
After dropping their first game to Newnan, the Royal All-Stars faced their Green Newton County counterparts, defeating them 11-6.
The all-stars went undefeated on Sunday, first beating North Macon 11-5. Then they had to face Newnan, a team that defeated them twice before.
“After coaches screaming and yelling at them to finally get going,” said Nolley laughing, “we beat them 19-5, and in the championship game, we beat them 17-1. We hit the ball a lot better than the first day, and when they get going, they’re pretty hard to beat.”
Knowing that he has a team full of excited kids ready to explore a new city, Nolley said he expects a great outcome in the World Series as long as his team can remain focused.
“As long as they’re not focused on hotels and swimming, then we’re going to have a good shot at winning,” he joked. “We have great pitching and we hit the ball very well.”
Nolley had the chance to play in state championships as a kid, so he offered up a few words of advice for his team.
“I just hope they enjoy it and live in the moment,” he said. “I don’t care if they win it, as long as they play hard and have fun. It’s a chance to go out of state and play ball, so just enjoy it.”
Coaching the team alongside Nolley are Gabe White, Gino Brown and Richard Hudson. Team members include: Jordan Nolley, Isaiah Biggers, Jamarcus Presley, Anjavian Presley, Gino Brown, Lorenzo Palmer, Kyle Johnson, Hunter Ewing, Anthony Bynum, Aleck Parks, Hunter Parker and Ryland Dean.