Golden opportunityPublished 12:01am Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Opp’s 10-year-old Cal Ripken All-Stars saw an opportunity knocking walked through the door.
After finishing runner up at the state tournament recently, the Bobcats decided they’d try their hand at the 10-year-old Southeast Regional in Matthews, N.C. this week.
The team packed everything up and headed out today toward the city that’s located southwest of Charlotte.
The tournament lasts from July 26-29, and Opp is the only team from Alabama competing in the tournament.
“I don’t know the best way to put it, but we’re just excited to have the opportunity and are really looking forward to it,” Opp coach Michael Smithart said.
Tournament format is pool play for the first two days and part of the third. Each team is guaranteed four games in pool play. Then, the top two seeds from each division advance to play in the single elimination bracket championship, which starts on Saturday.
Opp has been placed in the North Division with Atlantic Beach, Fla.; West Ashley, S.C.; Deep River, N.C.; and Matthews, N.C.
Teams in the West Division include Eagle Lake, Fla.; Fairview, N.C.; Rockville, Va.; and Putnum Co., Tenn.
The South Division includes Argyle, Fla.; West Raleigh, N.C.; Davidson, N.C.; Freedom Farm; and Buckhead, Ga.
In the East Division, Sarasota, Fla.; Union Co., N.C.; Winchester, Va.; West Nashville, Tenn.; and Henry Co., Tenn. will compete.
“We know there’s going to be some tough competition, but we think it’s a good opportunity for our guys that are going to represent the City of Opp and the state of Alabama well,” Smithart said.
Opp kicks off the tournament with two games on Thursday against Atlantic Beach, Fla. at 2 p.m., and then West Ashley, S.C. at 4 p.m.
Smithart said the keys to success lie in hitting and “making the routine plays.”
“We’ve got to pitch well,” he said. “We can’t afford to tie up outs by making errors.”
One thing Smithart said he’s stressed to the team at practice is that they are playing against “perfection.”
“We don’t play for another team, we play for each other,” he said. “If we do that, then we’ll be successful.”