The West Point Warriors 8U baseball team brought home a top five finish from the Alabama Dizzy Dean State Tournament in Scottsboro last week. (One member pictured separately because he was not available for the team photo.) (Nick Griffin for The Tribune)
WEST POINT – The West Point Warriors 8U baseball team brought home a top five finish from the Alabama Dizzy Dean State Tournament in Scottsboro last week to cap off a strong 2018 campaign with 20 wins and just two losses.
Warriors Head Coach Jason Echols has enjoyed working with this group all season and said he really saw them make big strides throughout the season.
“They’re 6-, 7- and 8-year-old kids and they’re learning as they go, but they all bought in, you know, believed in themselves and they worked hard,” Echols said. “They have great work ethic and great parents that support them and work with them and make sure they’re at practice. It’s just a good, disciplined group and the kids are eager to learn. It’s been a fun group to work with.”
On the field, the 8U Warriors were able to win a lot of games on the defensive side during the season and that style became their identity by the time they got to Scottsboro.
“Our biggest strength was defense; we were not a power hitting team. We played a lot of small ball,” Echols said. “We bunted the ball and ran the bases smart, and our biggest strength was defense. We were able to keep games pretty low-scoring and take advantage of that.”
West Point was one of the smaller towns that made it into this year’s tournament and despite the higher number of athletes that some teams had, the Warriors were still able to advance a few rounds through the bracket.
“It was a great experience for the kids. You go into that atmosphere against teams like Chelsea that pull from 150 kids to make an All-Star team and we were pulling from 30 kids. So, your odds of going down there and really doing well aren’t that great, but we had a great group of kids that believed in themselves and worked hard and they were able to accomplish a lot,” Echols said. “To make the top five in the state speaks volumes for them. Both of the games they lost, they put themselves in position to win the game and just fell short so that tells you how competitive they are and how good of a group they are. They don’t give up.”
Echols believes the tournament was a great experience for his kids and said he saw them grow not just as players, but young men as well.
“It was great for them to get out and get a taste of what travel ball is like, playing in a big tournament like that. I definitely saw them mature. During the first game there was a lot of nerves and a lot of jitters, but by the last game they were all grit, you know. They were confident and have been really fun to watch,” Echols said. “Just seeing that they can accomplish whatever they put their mind to… These kids in the beginning had to manage to find a spot on the team, had to support and had to believe in each other. They had to trust their teammates, and once they put their mind to it, they bought in and they believe in each other and believe in themselves. That’s why they were able to accomplish what they did. As coaches we can help them, we can teach them fundamental drills to help them develop, but for them to take it to the level they did is all on the kids.”
2018 West Point 8U Baseball Team
#1 – Carter McAfee
#11 – Andrew Godwin
#20 – Walker Brown (pictured separately because he was not there for the team photo)
#9 – Skylar Echols
#10 – Brycen Echols
#22 – Max Patterson
#40 – Tripp Dingler
#13 – Lane Forsyth
#12 – Tyler Forsyth
#25 – Austin Freeman
#24 – Cooper Hines
#21 – Westin Barnette
#17 – Brayden Kilpatrick
#14 – Brady Chapman
Head Coach Jason Echols
Coach Josh Brown
Coach Lance Echols
Coach Greg McAfee
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