MURRAY — For the third straight year, the Murray Sluggers made a trip to Florida to cap their travel baseball season. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were 42 teams signed up to participate in the age division the Sluggers play in, but the number dropped to 16 by the time the tournament rolled around.
Some great teams still showed up and the Sluggers found themselves in some tough games, but ultimately earned a second place trophy.
Head coach of the Sluggers, Ron Watson, said the team enjoys the trip every year and this one was no different.
“We loved it,” Watson said. “It was our third year there and it’s been great each year.”
The Sluggers saw a lead disappear in their first game but made a comeback in the semifinals for bracket play.
“We played Five Star National out of Georgia in our first pool play game and even though we held a 4-3 lead in the fifth inning, we ended up losing 7-4,” Watson said. “Then we played ECB Precision out of Georgia and beat them 7-4. In bracket play we beat the West Georgia Aces 6-4. We trailed 4-0 going into our final at bat and scored six runs to win. Then we lost to Superior Sports out of Atlanta to end our tournament.”
The difference in the final game came down to minor injuries. The Sluggers were dinged up a bit and that cost them in the end.
“We felt good, but banged up,” Watson said. “Three of our starters were hurt, but tried to play through injury. In the end, it was too much of a blow to us not being healthy.”
As far as tournaments go, this one provides the team with the best competition and allows them to see exactly how they stack up against some of the best players in their age group, so they will be back next year with hopes of winning a title.
“They love to play in these events because it gives us a good gauge on where we are as a team against top competition around the country,” Watson said.
As for COVID-19 restrictions that were enforced during the tournament, Watson said the major difference was “not shaking hands and not being able to spit or have gum or sunflower seeds.” Other than that it was business as usual.