Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Power + Speed = Babe Ruth State Title

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Power + Speed = Babe Ruth State Title

Article excerpt

Byline: mark boleky

Many Mandarin rec ball all-star teams are playing in the state tournament this month, and one squad got us off to a great start.

The Mandarin Athletic Association's 12-and-under baseball B squad won the Florida Babe Ruth State Tournament, going undefeated in its five games from June 23-26 in Ocala. The 18-team event started with three "seeding games," which MAA won handily over Santa Fe (from Gainesville), Orange Park and Jacksonville Beach.

From there, MAA beat Julington Creek in the semifinals, 12-4, and Jacksonville Beach again in the championship, 19-11. The theme in all games? Offense.

"A lot of that has to do with a great mix of power and speed," said head coach Shawn Mitchell.

Mitchell says that, including all tournaments, the team has gone 22-4 this season with 52 stolen bases and nine home runs. MAA previously had won the rec ball tournaments at Atlantic Beach and Fort Caroline.

In the state tournament, one highlight was a grand slam home run by Aaron Henry (which is an awesome name for a home run hitter) in the semifinal game to spur the big win. On the mound, Brad Parker and Austin Cook came up big, as did Greg Mitchell behind the plate.

"You listen to them, and they all want to play baseball. Of course, they want to have fun. But you can see the drive in them," said Shawn Mitchell. "It's really great to see them at age 12. They don't want to just hang around. They wanted to win the championship."

Today through Sunday, the 10 and 11 A teams for MAA will both be competing in the state tournament. The 10-year-olds will be in Hamilton, and the 11-year-olds will be in Lake City.

This is also a big weekend for the Mandarin Sports Association softball teams. Since MAA joined softball forces, MSA is stronger than ever. Five MSA softball teams, from ages 8-16, are competing this weekend at Ponte Vedra's Davis Park in the state tournament for Florida Babe Ruth Softball. …

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