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SWA Blues advance as 12u World Series heats up

By Chris Mackie

The Clemmons Courier

A chance to win a national championship doesn’t come along every day.

Especially for 12-year old baseball players who are competing in their final season on a youth league field.

So after the Southwest Athletics Baseball Blue and Red team all-stars each earned a berth in the 2017 Cal Ripken Majors 60 World Series, they vowed to make the most of a rare opportunity.

So far those vows have produced positive results. Playing on their home fields at the SWA complex in Clemmons, the Blues had battled to a 2-1 record in American pool play as of Tuesday morning and have qualified for the six-team championship round.

Their final pool game, a matchup against 2-1 Washington Ferndale that was scheduled to be played at noon on Tuesday, will decide if Southwest gets a two or three seed.

The World Series finals are slated to be played on Thursday night at 7:30 at Wilson Park.

“Our pitching and defense has been very solid,” mentioned David Lowe, the Southwest manager who helped guide the team to a regional championship in July. “We have not walked many batters and have played solid fundamental baseball.”

Lowe said the SWA offensive attack has also been strong. The team has a current .300 batting average and has produced a combined total of 35 runs in their first two games. Southwest beat Clark County, Arkansas 12-2 in their opener and thumped Galena, Kansas 23-2 in round two.

The only Southwest loss came against unbetean Cedar Cliff, Pennsylvania in round three play on Sunday. Reds suffer close losses

The 1-3 pool play record posted by the SWA Red team isn’t eye-catching but it belies the quality of performance turned in by a squad that captured the Ripken state title earlier in the summer.

“I couldn’t be more pleased with our performance to date,” noted Reds manager Shane Simmons. “More than wins and losses, I have watched this team develop more passion and appreciation for the game of baseball.

“It’s routine for players to ask to stay after practice to get more time on the field. As a coach, you love that. And our parents always sacrifice their time to allow it to happen.”

Playing in the National five-team pool, the Reds won their tournament opener last Thursday night by knocking off the Ohio Valley representative 11-7. Since then, however, they have suffered several heartbreaking losses, including an extra-inning defeat against Washington Park, Rhode Island on Sunday.

As of Tuesday, the Reds still had a chance to advance to the championship round pending the outcome of the Indiana-Virginia game. If they fail to qualify, the Reds will compete in the Ripken four-team Iron bracket tournament. The Iron bracket finals will be played at 5:30 on Thursday.