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9U team learns lessons at state tournament

The Demopolis 9U Cal Ripken All-Star team finished its state tournament run in Tillman’s Corner a little sooner than it wanted. However, according to head coach Terry Lay, the team was able to have a great experience along the way.

“We played against some really tough competition down there. Some of the teams have been together, playing 80 games a year with travel ball teams. But our kids still did great,” said Lay.

The 9U team came up empty-handed in its three games in Mobile.

The squad dropped the first game to host Tillman’s Corner 20-2

“Tillman’s is one of those travel ball teams. Its tough to compete with someone who has been able to play that many games together and has that much experience playing with one another,” said Lay.

The Demopolis boys didn’t help themselves in the game, surrendering 13 walks and a few errors.

In game two Demopolis showed signs of improvement, keeping the contest a 4-4 tie until the fifth inning before allowing Monrovia to win 11-4.

“We just had that one bad inning. We played well, but that one inning really killed us,” Lay said.

Game three for Lay’s squad was a close one with Demopolis falling again 12-7, this time to Southern.

“That was a really hard fought game. We played extremely well and it was a close game before they pulled away late again,” Lay said.

Lay was happy with the way his players performed in their time by the beach and was pleased with the improvement that his team showed each and every game.

“The kids got better and better,” said Lay. “As the weekend progressed, they got more and more confidence. They made plays when they were supposed to and some (plays) they weren’t, which makes coaching a little easier.”

With another tournament under their belts, the core of the 9U team gained some valuable experience playing against the best competition in Alabama that their age group has to offer.

“We will have the core group of guys next year and they will have confidence because they have done it before. Going to state is always helpful, no matter the result.”

Lay and the other coaches hope that the boys will be able to find a way to improve and make a run next year. For now, it is just time to have some summer fun.