Tournaments | Story | 7/18/2019

5 Star going 1,000 mph

Jack Nelson        
Photo: Drew Nelson (Perfect Game)

EMERSON, Ga.- After 12 hours, 28 games and one long thunderstorm, the final four is set at the WWBA 15u National Championship. One of the few left standing, 5 Star National 15u Dobbs captured the BCS National Championship earlier this month. They have continued their hot play as they punched their ticket to Championship Friday with an 8-0 thumping of the East Cobb Astros 14u on Thursday evening.

Thursday was a grind for every playoff team. The schedule is grueling. Yes, winning requires talent, but it also demands elite mental toughness. 5 Star played three games in the searing heat, and sandwiched in between the second and the third game was a lightning delay. So in addition to battling dehydration, the team also had the challenge of staying focused on a hectic schedule.

“It’s definitely hard, but we’ve had a lot of practice with it all summer,” coach Britt Dobbs said. “We had to do the same thing at the BCS. It’s just the way the tournaments go. You play one game a day, and then you have to play five games in two days. We were fortunate enough to win the BCS, so we’ve gotten a taste of what this is like.”

5 Star began the day with a 9-2 victory over Canes North 15u, and then moved on to defeat a dangerous BPA 15u team, 4-1. Along the way, they got excellent pitching performances from Ashton Crowther, Cole Mathis, and Sullivan Brackin. Both Mathis and Brackin topped at 88 mph.

In the quarterfinals, they handed the ball to Drew Nelson, and the lefty battled through 4 1/3 shutout innings. He allowed three hits and struck out two. It was a gutsy performance, especially considering Nelson was playing in the field for the previous two contests. But like a bulldog, he battled.

“After playing two games before this, I was extremely tired,” Nelson admitted. “But I knew I had to perform for my team. I knew we were going to score some runs, so I was really focused on doing what I needed to do to get us to tomorrow.”

Jaxson West (5 Star’s catcher) and I have a great relationship,” he said. “He got me through most of it.”

Offensively, 5 Star was led by Mathis, who went 2-for-2 with two runs scored. He also impressed the crowd with a couple mammoth foul balls down the left field line. 5 Star also got excellent at bats from Blaydon Plain, who added a triple, and Jaxson West, who contributed a double with two RBIs.

5 Star currently sits at 10-0. That kind of performance requires production from the entire team, whether that be the nine hole hitter or the last guy out of the bullpen. It doesn’t matter who does it. In fact, in tournaments and situations like these, often times it is the guy you least expect that makes the play and delivers the pitch that makes all the difference.

“Collectively, we’ve had kids on the mound and at the plate do their job,” Dobbs said. “When one kid isn’t hitting, another picks him up. That’s what makes me the most proud.”

It’s certainly an accomplishment to make it to the final four of the WWBA National Championship. Over 300 of the best teams battled it out all week, and now just a handful remain. Dobbs knows they will be tested on Friday. The undefeated Keystone War Eagles are waiting for them in the semifinal, and if they can come through, a potential matchup with Canes National could be next.

Whatever challenge lies before them, the boys of 5 Star know to fall back on their program ethos. They also know a major key to Friday may lie in which team recovers the best after a stressful day on Thursday. Proper nutrition and rest will be paramount to prepare for another day on the LakePoint fields.

“A lot of eating and a lot of sleeping,” Nelson said of his post game plans.

Most organizations would be ecstatic to get one national championship in their entire history. Now, this 15u 5 Star team has an opportunity to capture two of them in just three weeks.

“It’d be pretty special, especially after the BCS,” Mathis said. “Any time you can come out and compete for a national championship, it’s a major accomplishment. If we come out the way we are supposed to, we will have a good shot.”

Dobbs echoed his star player’s words. To play for 5 Star requires more than just talent. It takes a certain attitude, and the skipper believes his players posses the demeanor necessary to bring home another trophy.

“We have a good chance to win if we go 1,000 mph and grind,” Dobbs said. “That’s what we do. That’s our war cry. We believe that if we go 1,000 mph for seven innings, we can pull it off.”

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