CHIPLEY - Washington County hosted 11 states in the 2014 Dixie Pre-Majors World Series from July 26 to July 30, generating much needed local revenue and earning Chipley's team the title of World Series Runners-up.
The event kicked off with a banquet Friday, July 25, with Sheriff Bobby Haddock welcoming the visiting teams.
"We could not have been more humbled to host the 11 state champions," said Haddock. "There is nothing quite like the opening ceremonies of the World Series Championship. In baseball, no other day is so pure with possibility. No scores yet, no losses, no blame or disappointment."
High School Head Baseball Coach and President of the Chipley Dixie Majors Andy Compton started the process of bidding for the event two years ago and says it's the first time Washington County has hosted the event, and the first time in recent history a Florida city has been selected as host.
"We made a bid on the tourney in 2012 with the help of the Washington County Tourism Development Council," said Compton. "None of this would have happened without their help and that of TDC Director Heather Lopez. Without a great group of volunteers, the behind the scenes work would have been nearly impossible to do without them," he added. "We had close to a hundred volunteers. From host parents for each team, to cooks, hospitality workers, field crew, and concession volunteers, we couldn't have done it without them."
Community efforts didn't go unnoticed by visitors, either.
"I've been to a lot of events over the years, both in big cities and small towns, but I've never been as impressed as I have been with Chipley," said Keith Robinson, Assistant Director of the Alabama Dixie Boys Majors. "The courtesy and hospitality shown by this community is second to none."
Participating states were Florida, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Texas. All games were held at the Chipley High School baseball fields.
As traditional with tournament hosts, Chipley was expected to be the underdog, but the team pulled off a runner-up ranking.
"Our group exceeded expectations from everyone," said Coach Compton. "To have to go against the type of talent we did, our guys really stepped up. It makes you proud that they realized the amount of work that went into this event and they, in turn, worked hard to prepare."
Most of Chipley's Dixie Pre Majors team also played on the Chipley High School 2014 State Finalist team in the spring, so there wasn't much rest between tournaments.
"We played the FHSAA Championship game on May 20 and had little down time before having to prepare for this event, but it was all worth it," said Compton.
More than 20 games were played in the series. Here are highlights from Chipley's match-ups:
Chipley vs. Arkansas (Sat., July 26):
Daniel Floyd was the winning pitcher, giving up four hits and one unearned run. He had 6 strikeouts in the fifth-inning, run rule win. Leading hitters were: Daniel Floyd, 1 for 2; Micah McCaskill, 2 for 3 with a homerun; Cole McCord, 2 for 2. Final score: 12-1, Chipley
Chipley vs. Alabama (Sun., July 27):
Micah McCaskill earned the win on the mound and was 3 for 4 at the plate with a double and a homerun. Other leading hitters were: Grant Rowell, 2 for 4 and Denny Elligson, 2 for 4 with a double. Final score: 7-2, Chipley
Chipley vs. Mississippi (Tues., July 29):
Mississippi scored 2 runs in the bottom of the 7th for the win. Leading hitters were: Micah McCaskill, 2 for 5; Denny Elligson, 2 for 3 with a homerun, and Andrew Howell, 2 for 3. Final score: 5-4, Mississippi
Chipley vs. Texas (Tues., July 29):
James Walsingham started on the mound for Chipley and pitched well. He was later relieved by Cole McCord, who earned the win. Leading hitters were: Andrew Howell, 3 for 4 with two RBI's and Daniel Floyd, who scored 2 runs by walking 3 times. A 6-run 6th inning led by a big double for Grant Rowell keyed the Chipley win. Codi Wood's sacrifice bunt turned the momentum in Chipley's favor on a two-strike pitch. Final score: 8-4, Chipley
Finals - Chipley vs. Mississippi (Wed., July 30):
In order to earn the championship, Chipley had to face Mississippi twice on Wed. in the Finals. In the first game, Daniel Floyd was dominant on the mound, limiting Mississippi to just 3 hits while striking out 7 in the complete game win. Top hitters were: Micah McCaskill, 2 for 2 with two runs scored; Andrew Howell, 2 for 3 with two RBI's and Cole McCord, who was 1 for 3 with a double. Final score: 3-0, Chipley. In the final game of the tournament, Mississippi won a hard-fought game. Andrew King started on the mound for Chipley, going 3 innings before getting hit by a pitch, forcing him to leave the game. Chipley trailed 6-0 after 4 innings but came back with 5 big runs in the top of the 5th. Cole McCord, Micah McCaskill, and Daniel Floyd had big hits in the 5th inning to get Chipley back in the game. Final score: 7-5, Mississippi.