The Optimist Club 2012 season that wrapped up last week was the last for the Multitudes 12U baseball coach Jeff “Boo” Dial. For six years Dial has coached son Brent, who upon turning 13 years of age will effectively age out of next year’s competition.
Not only did the Multitudes win both the regular season and tournament championships in the 12U division, son Brent was also one of four players on the team to be selected to the 11 year-old and 12 year-old Optimist Club All-Star teams. And for Dial, watching his son go from an inexperienced seven year-old to one of Laurinburg’s best Optimist players makes his final season all the more special.
“I got emotional out there the other night when they were presenting trophies, because it made me reflect back on all the memories we’ve made at the Optimist park,” said Dial, who also had Andrew Shepard and Cameron Thrift make the 12 year-old Optimist All-Stars. Pitcher and shortstop Luke Johnson was selected to the 11 year-old squad.
“I remember my son not being able to hit or throw or do anything, and to see where he and this ballclub are at now just means the world to me,” he said.
With an undefeated regular season and tournament record, the Multitudes along with the 10u Hasty Realty and 8U Jackson’s Diesel teams all had unprecedented runs en route to their respective championships. It was the first time in more than 20 years that an Optimist Club team has achieved this distinction, and 2012 was the year that saw three teams accomplish this feat.
It was also the first year that any of Hasty Realty coach Adam Romaine’s players had seen kid pitch baseball, which resulted in some early season struggles. But after they hoisted their championship trophies, Romaine believes that the hard work his players put into improving on the field gave each child a chance to make a memorable play when their team needed it the most.
“We had 11 players on the team, and each one put the ball in play at one point or another,” Romaine said. “Not only was it key to us winning the games we did, but more importantly, the feeling that these kids got for accomplishing something out there was shared by everyone. They treated it like it was the best thing in the world.”
While three teams shared landmark seasons, only one team in both the Optimist Club baseball and softball leagues fell short in the regular season, only to battle back and win the tournament championship. That was the Jerry’s Deli and Grill 9U softball team, who seized their opportunity when the undefeated regular season champion Jersey Mike’s squad fell to eventual championship opponent Johnson Brothers in the first round of the tournament. Playing a double-header against Johnson Brothers, Jerry’s Deli held on to a 4-3 win in second game to clinch the tournament championship.
“It was a Cinderella story for these girls,” said Jerry’s Deli and Grill team mom Alessa Williams. “These girls were a little tired after the first game after putting it all out there, but they played with their hearts and everything they had to finish the season strong.”
Regular Season and Tournament Champions:
10U: Hasty Realty
8U: Jackson’s Diesel
6U: Scotland Law Enforcement and Habitat for Humanity (co-regular season champions; Scotland Law Enforcement tournament champions)
9U: Regular Season Champions: Jersey Mike’s; Tournament Champions: Jerry’s Deli and Grill