It has been almost a month since the Glynn County 7-8 and 10U baseball squads won their respective District 2 championship.
During the long break between the Georgia Recreation and Parks Department district and state tournaments, the teams have stayed busy.
Glynn 7-8 coach Rob Ellis and his squad have been practicing and scrimmaging nearby teams in preparation for their first game today at the state tournament in Waycross. The 7-8 team plays Lyons at 4 p.m. today at Trembling Earth Recreation Complex.
“We scrimmaged a team from Wayne County who’s playing coach pitch,” Ellis said. “They’re not in the wheel pitch tournament and were looking for a team to scrimmage. We scrimmaged a team from Brantley too to get a little live action in before we get out there.”
The Glynn 9-10 team has also been preparing for its state tournament after taking off some time for the holiday. Glynn plays Lyons at 3:45 p.m. at John Milner Sports Complex in East Point and would play Moultrie Gold at 7:15 p.m. today if they defeat Lyons.
“We rested on the Fourth, gave all the boys a break and let them enjoy being a kid,” said Glynn 9-10 coach James Johnson. “We’ve been practicing pretty hard through the weekend and we’re ready to go.”
Aside from practices, Johnson’s squad has been doing other team activities to keep up their momentum from winning the district championship including making trips to the pool together and selling raffle tickets at First Friday to support the trip.
“I want them to be themselves and not to feel any extra pressure,” Johnson said of the team’s trip to state. “Of course it’s a bigger stage, but I’ve got a mature group. I think they’re ready. I don’t think the spotlight is going to be too big for them.”
Ellis echoed the same sentiment. Keeping it fun has been part of the coach’s game plan from the beginning.
“The biggest thing when we started this season is I wanted it to be fun,” Ellis said. “I told them that from the very beginning. We’re still trying to play games and keep it light-hearted. They’re 7 and 8 years old, so you gotta make sure they’re having fun.”
The Glynn 7-8 team certainly had fun at the district tournament. The squad ran through the winner’s bracket of the double-elimination tournament until suffering its first loss in the finals against Camden.
Glynn bounced back to win the final game to take the district title. Ellis said whatever happens at the state tournament will be gravy to an already impressive summer.
“Our goal going into it was to win district, and we did that,” Ellis said. “We accomplished our first goal and our next one is to go have fun at state. If we happen to win state, that’s fantastic and we’ll be really excited. If we lose the first two, we’re not going to be upset or disappointed.”
Glynn won’t necessarily have a home-field advantage playing in Waycross since Ware County will be in the tournament, but the team is returning to the site where it won district.
They also will get to stay at home for the duration of the tournament.
“The big-leaguers say it all the time that sleeping in your own bed is a huge advantage,” Ellis said. “We’re going to get to sleep in our own beds, so I think that’s a big advantage for us not being in a hotel and being out of our normal routine.”
The Glynn 9-10 team took a different route to winning their district title. The squad lost its first game to Wayne County, sending it to the loser’s bracket. From that point, Glynn won seven straight games.
Johnson said the turnaround came in its second losers bracket game against Coffee County where a grand slam turned a deficit into a lead and ignited the team’s offense.
“We were getting by on defense and really not hitting well,” Johnson said. “We were playing Coffee County, down three runs and hit a big grand slam that put us up by one. Our bats finally woke up. We took off from there. We ran off four straight wins after that. That was the key moment that really triggered (winning district).”
The 9-10 team will try to keep that momentum going today in East Point.
“We’re going to do our best,” Johnson said. “We’re really looking forward to it.”