SEBRING — The trip from Sebring to Marianna is a pretty lengthy one, but the trip to Texarkana, Ark., is a whole lot farther.
With the help of the community, the Sebring AA Machine Pitch All-Stars were able to get to both places to play — and play they did — capturing first the state title and then the AA Machine Pitch World Series championship.
“I just want to thank all the parents and the community for all of the donations,” said manager Will Sebring.
“Without all the support from the sponsors, the donations and the families, the trip wouldn’t have been able to be done. The state tournament was a long ways away in North Florida and that took a whole week of fundraising and then the World Series in Arkansas; it was harder to get there, but with our community support we were able to.”
On Monday, the team was recognized by Mayor John Shoop and the City of Sebring at Circle Park for their accomplishments.
“You guys did a fantastic job,” Shoop told the team. “I think throughout the series you guys have learned a lot of things about teamwork, about hard work, how to be honest, how to play hard, how to be fair and you took it from day one when you started to the end.
“We’re really proud of you guys. You’ve done a great service for our community and you brought back a championship honor that no one has. It’s the first World Series for the AA, for the pitching machine.”
Each player and coach was presented with a proclamation that stated “August 11, 2014 shall be recognized and celebrated as Sebring AA Machine Pitch World Series Champions Day.”
“I know it’s a special day for you guys, for your moms and dads and all your families and all your friends,” Shoop said. “You really made us proud for bringing this home and you have a lot of good things to look forward to in the future.”
The team consists of Brad Benton, Brody Green, Ezera Jackson, George Sebring, Clayton Evans, Jayden Garrett, Zain Carmichael, Rhett Vaughn, Chase Sevigny, Austin Joiner, Aiden Wyatt and Cody Littlefield. The coaches are Colin Evans, Bobby Green and Eldon Wyatt, with Will Sebring the manager.
“It was good to come here and see the city celebrate all the hard work the boys put in,” Will Sebring said. “For 8-year-old boys, it’s a good thing and they worked hard for it.”
Sebring started its postseason charge by winning the District 8 title in Okeechobee. The boys in blue advanced to the state tournament in Marianna and rolled to the title to advance to the first-ever Machine Pitch World Series in Arkansas.
It was a magical summer on the diamond for these youngsters, coaches and their families.
Sebring said nothing has really changed about the team since winning the World Series title.
“They’re 8-year-old kids, they just want to go back and play baseball,” he said. “One day it will sink in that they have a World Series under their belts, but these boys just love playing and they want to get back to it.”