By Josh Havard
With two years of coach-pitch experience under their belts, a local group of talented baseball players headed to Beaumont to show they can compete with the best competition from bigger cities.
When all was said and done, 8U Dynasty Black, a team comprised of players from Diboll and surrounding areas, proved to be the best of the best.
Playing eight games over five days in near triple-digit heat, the local team outlasted the competition to bring home the World Series title.
“It was really hot, and every day there was an ambulance taking away someone because of heat exhaustion,” head coach Shane Howatt said. “And toward the last game, everyone was just hanging on. They just stuck with it through everything. It’s a really good way to end the coach pitch portion of the team.”
The local team started the tournament with a pool play loss to another Dynasty Black team from Humble. After pool play ended, those teams had a rematch with the local team getting the upper hand.
Each team then battled through the heat to reach the championship game. The Humble team forced an “if game” with a win before the local group bounced back with a victory of its own to take the championship.
“We played in the Fall World Series and came up one run short,” Howatt said. “This was a good way to end it. These kids have been playing together for a long time so this was a good way to end it.”
Following that Fall World Series, Howatt said the team went through most of their schedule with an undefeated record. However, the toughest competition came over the last few months.
The local team was still able to win two of those four tournaments despite taking some rare losses against the elevated competition.
“We didn’t have all of our kids together because of some district tournaments and the competition had gotten tougher,” Howatt said, “but the kids still weren’t used to losing. That made it even better for the kids to hang in there and win this last tournament.”
Now the local group of stars will take their game to the next level when they start live arm competition. They will play in a fall league before getting ready for more tournament action.
One of their goals is to qualify for the ESPN Elite 32 Tournament, which would be held at the Disney World athletic complex. In order to qualify for that tournament, the team would need to win one of the elite tournaments across the nation.
“That’s some really tough competition so it’s a big goal,” Howatt said. “It will be a lot of work, but it’s something good to shoot for.”
Members of the team are: Channing Howatt, Peyton Herrington, Grant Stafford, Zayne Cortines, Latavian Forney, Will Plowman, Adam Sanchez, Canyen Hollis, Zeth Dugat, Jose Luna, Jayden Tamez and Jackson May.