LAURINBURG – The Optimist 10U All-Stars won four straight games to begin the Cal Ripken Eastern Carolina State Tournament this weekend at Optimist Park, including a thrilling 19-18 comeback win against Sandhills Monday evening. Optimist would then play West Raliegh in the first game of the championship series, where they lost 13-2.
Optimist 10U coach Scott Cole, said that the crowd atmosphere at Optimist park this weekend was outstanding, citing the free admission for fans as the reason for the good turnout.
“I was really impressed by the size of the crowds at this tournament,” Cole said. “Teams paid for what would normally be the gate fee, so there was no charge for spectators and I think that really encouraged local involvement.”
The second game of the championship series begins 6 p.m. today at Optimist Park.
11U All-Stars come up short
The Optimist 11U All-Stars won three of their first four games in the North Carolina State Tournament at Cape Carteret, showing a flair for the dramatic as they came from behind to win two of those games.
Their spectacular run through the tournament was eventually ended by West Raleigh as the Optimist 11U All-Stars lost 11-0 in the championship series. It was the 11U All-Stars’ first appearance in the state championship, and although they did not win the title, coach Craig Dean could not be prouder of his kids.
“We have enjoyed this experience,” Dean said. “The kids have really taken advantage of this opportunity, they have come a long way as a group and they learned from this experience so we can carry it on to the 12-year-old group.”
7U All-Stars fall to West Raleigh
The Optimist 7U All-Stars won five games in a row to advance to the championship game of the North Carolina State Tournament, including a 10-6 win against Winterpark in the semifinal game, but they eventually lost to West Raleigh 19-0.
Optimist 7U coach Perry Johnson was happy with his teams’ effort and focus despite the losing effort.
“Mentally they were focused 95 percent of the time, which for 7-year-old is way more than I can ask for,” Johnson said. “They stayed within themselves despite being excited about playing for a championship.”