All-Stars compete at Jonesboro
The Northeast Arkansas 14-year-old All-Stars competed last weekend in the District Tournament at Jonesboro's Joe Mac Campbell Park.
The event turned into a best two of three play-off between NEA and Jonesboro when Blytheville dropped out.
The NEA lost game one on Friday, July 11, in extra innings 8-7. Saturday's game looked to be well in hand with the NEA rolling to an 8-0 lead after two innings of play but pitching limitations proved to be fatal for NEA. With starters Sam Newman and Garrett Bollinger using up innings in Friday night's extra inning affair, Jonesboro walked its way beck into Saturday's game and pulled out a 12-8 win for the tournament title and a trip to Greenland for the state tournament.
NEA Coach Shelby Phillips said, "I was really proud of this team. They fought hard, never got down, had a good attitude and had a good time together."
This year's 14-year-old team had players from eight different teams, the most ever for an NEA All-Star team. Players were Beau Hogan, Garrett Bollinger and Tyler Griffin from Bay, Luke Vaughn and Peyton Futrell of Brookland, C.J. Cagle and GeJaye Moye of Trumann, Philip Bickerstaff and Loran Ghant of Marked Tree, Scott Hogan of Valley View, Sam Newman of Harrisburg, Joshua Chamberlin of EPC and Jordan Phillips of Buffalo Island Central.
Coach Phillips said because of the small town makeup, it is difficult for NEA teams to gain a competitive edge against Jonesboro, Blytheville or Paragould in District play.
"We put these team together very late and this year our league tournaments ran long. We practiced twice, and not all team members were together at either practice. The first time our kids were all together was at our first game Friday night," Phillips said.
"Some of these kids were asked to play in positions they had not played in all year, but they turned in two very good performances against a team that had been together for about a month and played 10 to 12 games. All of our kids played and nearly all of them sat two or three innings on the bench and their attitudes were great. It was sort of funny to tell a player you needed him to play somewhere and watch his eyes get big as if to say, "are you kidding? I've never played there before." They all did a good job anywhere we put them," said the 14-year old team coach.
Some players moved two or three times during the game, added Coach Phillips.
"Vaughn saw action at third base, first base and on the mound. Cagle also played three different positions in Saturday's game. Phillips (Jordan) started at second base, went to left field, pitched an inning when called upon, and finished the game at third," Coach Phillips said. "It was a great experience for the players as well as the coaches."
The NEDA was led on Saturday by Futrell who went 2-4 with a run scored, including a two-run single in the second inning.
Bollinger, Phillips, Hogan, Vaughn, Cagle, Newman and Futrell each scored in the second. Ghant scored the eighth and final run in the third inning on a RBI ground out by Vaughn.
Bollinger was 1-4 with a run scored.
Phillips had two singles and a walk with a run scored and an RBI. Cagle added an RBI single in the second and Newman hit an RBI single, walked, and was hit by a pitch to lead off the second.