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HomeBusiness & CommunitySpring Hill Dixie All Stars, World Series Runner-Up

Spring Hill Dixie All Stars, World Series Runner-Up

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From late July to early August, Dixie League teams from across a dozen southeastern states converged on Hattiesburg, Mississippi. The Spring Hill Dixie All-Stars Team represented the state of Florida in division 8U at the tournament, and this was the first year since 1998 that the city hosted the Dixie Youth World Series. The Hernando County-based squad battled their way to the championship game but ultimately fell short to Texas in the finale. Despite holding a 4-1 advantage midway through the contest, the All-Stars were unable to hang onto the lead and lost by a 12-4 margin. Despite finishing as the runner-up, Springstead High School Assistant Principal and All-Stars Manager Brandon Wright is proud of his squad. He made sure to emphasize just how much they had accomplished by being one of the last two teams to make it to the end.

“We brought the team together and told them to look around and remember all that they gave and accomplished this summer,” Coach Wright said. “We know that it hurt to not get over that last hurdle, but think about how many other seven- to eight-year-olds wish they could be there experiencing the ride that they got to take. We told them that we are proud of them and that they should take pride in how well they represented Florida and Spring Hill Dixie Baseball on that big stage.”

Coach Wright’s squad ended the season 13-3 while going undefeated throughout the season. They emerged victorious from the district tournament and the state tournament in Mariana, Florida. There they also went undefeated, 6-0, before the World Series tournament in Mississippi. The team’s three losses all came at the World Series, where the squad went 1-1 in back-to-back brackets before eventually losing to Texas.

One of the main things that Coach Wright stresses to his team is being mentally tough. The idea that the next play is the most important play is paramount. A mantra often echoed by coaches, it is crucial for athletes in any sport to not let the last play affect them, whether it be good or bad. The Dixie League coach also wants his team to enjoy themselves, however, and even went so far as to let his players smother him in ice cream toppings as a way to have fun when the team was going through a rough stretch in Mississippi.

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“We got off to a start in the World Series that was not our brand of baseball, and the kids, coaches, and parents all looked stressed and tense,” Coach Wright said. “It was a team-building activity that we did on Sunday before our games to help loosen everyone up and remind them that we were there to play a game and enjoy ourselves. Of course, our goal was ultimately to win, but we always played our best baseball when we were loose and having fun, so we wanted to infuse that positive energy back into the team.”

Coach Wright has been an educator in Hernando County for 13 years and loves working with children. He has also coached a variety of sports, ranging from high school cross country to college hockey, and grew up the son of a ball coach. So, when he went to sign his son up for baseball, he could not pass up the opportunity to manage a Dixie League team when they informed him that there was a position available. With Wright having coached some of his players for multiple years, the experience and philosophy they now share helped the All-Stars make their deep playoff run in Hattiesburg.

“This took everyone involved, just everybody. This was a total team effort,” Coach Wright said. “There’s probably nothing that they should be ashamed of… a great group of families that bought in. Many nights of practice.”

Looking ahead to next season, the Dixie League sign-ups are currently happening, and the fall season will start within the next couple of weeks. Coach Wright’s travel team, the Bandits, has tryouts for their fall season on the nineteenth of August as well.

Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch is a Graduate with Distinction, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. He's written numerous articles reporting on Florida Gators football, basketball, and soccer teams; the sports of rugby, basketball, professional baseball, hockey, and the NFL Draft. Prior to Hernando Sun he was a contributor to ESPN, Gainesville, FL and Gator Country Multimedia, Inc. in Gainesville, FL, and Stadium Gale.
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