Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Kids of Big Blue Take a Swing at Regional Title

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Kids of Big Blue Take a Swing at Regional Title

Article excerpt

Byline: Sandy Strickland, Staff writer

When the Big Blue Machine is fired up, watch out. These 8-year-olds have been hitting and fielding like, well, a machine.

The team has slugged its way to district and state wins and now will be competing in the Cal Ripken Southeast Regional Rookie Tournament in Wilmington, N.C., Thursday through Sunday.

The Big Blue, a group of all-stars from the Normandy Athletic Association on the Westside, got its nickname from the uniform -- blue shirts with the words "Normandy All-Stars" in gray, blue caps and gray pants with a white and blue stripe.

"We've got a great group of kids that love to play ball and work hard," head coach Scott Smith said. "We've also got the best parents a coach could ever ask for. They do what we ask them to do and are at every practice and every game."

At first, Smith said, he had decided not to go to Wilmington, even if his team won the state tournament.

"But the way we played, we deserved to take the kids as far as could get them," he said. "The kids got fired up and the parents got fired up, and they talked me into going."

Big Blue first played in two local tournaments, winning at San Jose and placing second at Fort Caroline, with Fort Caroline coming in first.

Then it was on to the district championship in Lake City June 24-27. The players won their six-team bracket by beating the Tanglewood Athletic Association from Orange Park in the title game, 15-6.

At the state tournament in West Palm Beach July 8-11, Big Blue won all four games while giving up only six runs. One of those teams was Big Blue's nemesis, Fort Caroline, which the team beat 8 to 3. The kids also walloped by a 10 to 1 score a Jacksonville team from Argyle. In the championship game, they topped Palm Beach Gardens 4 to 1.

In an interesting twist, the team was crowned the South Florida rookie champions. …

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