Dulins Dodgers won the WWBA 14U National Championship in June, they won the BCS 14U National Championship in July and they won the NABF World Series in Mississippi this summer. And now, on the last day of August, they’ve been named the top 14-&-under youth baseball team in the country by Perfect Game USA.
“It was amazing what they did on the field,” said Dulin, the owner/operator of the Dulins Baseball program in Tennessee.
The 14U Dodgers finished the 2009 season with a 32-4 record, but only one of those losses came against a 14U team. The other three setbacks were to older teams. There were only 12 kids on the team, so there was lots of playing time for everyone.
“We just had unbelievable chemistry. All the kids love to play,” said Dulin. “We had a lot of versatility, a lot of kids who can pitch and play a lot of positions.”
Dulin, 45, began his program in 2000, predominantly with 17U and 18U travel teams. Three years ago, he added a 16U team to the lineup. This year, he added the 14U ballclub. The national champs.
Dulin said a friend of his, Curtis Copeland, had been coaching a core group of kids since they were about 7 years old. Dulin and Copeland took that nucleus of players, added a few more talented kids, put them in Dulins Dodgers uniforms and turned out a top-notch club, with players from Tennessee, Florida, Arkansas and Missouri.
“It was a fun summer,” he said.
Dulin helped Copeland run the team. Dulin’s son, Dalton, a shortstop, was one of the top players, and the club got contributions from everyone. Chase Hamilton was named the MVP of the WWBA tournament. Brett Hanewich, who already throws in the mid-80s, was honored as the Most Valuable Pitcher at the WWBA. Josh Cooley was named the Most Valuable Player at the BCS tournament. Blake Hennessey, the son of Los Angeles Dodgers scout Scott Hennessey, also garnered top recognition.
Dulin, a two-time All-American at the University of Memphis, has a deep background in baseball. He was selected in the second round of the 1985 draft by the Baltimore Orioles and played Triple-A ball for three years, never quite reaching the majors. “I got behind some guy named Ripken,” he said.
Dulin retired as an active player in 1991, then switched to teaching and coaching with his own business. “Our main goal was to identify and develop top players in the southeast region,” he said.
Dulin has a staff of instructors, including former Chicago White Sox manager Terry Bevington and former major league pitcher David West, who pitched for the Minnesota Twins when they won the World Series in 1991.
The Dulins Dodgers organization had produced 20 college All-Americans and 28 all-conference players in the SEC, ACC and Conference-USA heading into the 2009 campaign. The Dodgers also had produced 288 collegiate players and 46 professional players when the year began, then had three more players drafted this past June. One of them, David Renfroe, was a third-round pick by the Boston Red Sox and signed for $1.4 million. Matt Cain, a Dulin grad, pitches for the San Francisco Giants. Julio Borbon plays the outfield for the Texas Rangers.
The Dodgers had won six national titles heading into the 2009 campaign. Now they’ve got nine national titles, thanks to the new 14U team they put together this year. Perfect timing.