EDITOR'S NOTE: Well, it’s that time of year again. Multi-colored lights adorn homes everywhere. Primetime TV is filled with seasonal cartoons. The smell of evergreens seems to be everywhere. And newspapers and magazines recap their year with countdown stories. We’re no different. With today’s edition, the Press Gazette begins its countdown of the top sports stories of 2012. We begin with No. 12: Pace winning the T-Ball World Series at Gospel Projects. Here’s the story, as published:
The win made for an ironic night for the Pace Athletic Recreation Association in more ways than one.
To win the T-Ball World Series at Gospel Projects, Pace had to win two games against a team that put them in the losers’ bracket in the opening round.
It also happened to be the same team Coach Chad McCammon played on before he went on to play high school baseball at Tate High.
“We wanted to play the best, and NEP Gold was the best,” McCammon said. “What made it even more special was it was the team we had lost to before.
“We came out a little hesitant the first time we played (NEP Gold), but later on in the game, we matched them run for run. That helped our confidence.”
Just like the first night PARA fell to NEP Gold 24-14, the stands were full of parents, and people were around the field for the championship game as PARA swept NEP Gold 21-14 and then 23-14 for the first T-Ball World Series won by a Santa Rosa County team since Gospel Projects won it all in 1970.
Playing in the T-Ball World Series, the players from Pace had to adapt to a different game. Some called it “Whistle Ball.”
“We play a baseball-style game that you keep going until there is a play,” McCammon said. “There is no whistle.
“Before the tournament started, we had to learn how to run the bases with a whistle and also play with that orange bouncy ball.”
Pace managed … winning eight games in-a-row in the double elimination tournament.
“They did an outstanding job coming out of the losers’ bracket in the tournament to win everything,” said Tod Brainard, the Youth Athletic Club Program Director at Gospel Projects Park. “It was a tremendous tournament and a very exciting championship.”
McCammon feels the key for the entire tournament was not only the dedication of the players, but everyone involved with the Pace squad.
“We had to come up with a new way of thinking and a new strategy when it came to playing the infield, outfield, running, and hitting,” McCammon said. “It took four coaches and the dedication and commitment from the players buying into this was tremendous.
“It might have helped us just a little bit when we took some of the kids to play in a whistle ball tournament during the middle of our season so we could get a better understanding of the game as coaches and players.”
That first loss for Pace seemed to be what was needed as they spent the next six games adapting and getting ready for what they hoped would be another shot at NEP Gold.
“We had to stay positive,” McCammon said. “If we made a mistake we had to let it go and move on to the next play.”
While they moved on to the next play, sometimes that play was made on offense.
For Pace, that offensive weapon came in the form of Tanner Sauls.
Sauls was an offensive machine.
After not hitting a home run in game one, Sauls went on an offensive explosion managing 23 home runs over the next eight games. He became the new Gospel Project Home Run King for six-year-olds.
“We needed Tanner as a weapon,” McCammon said. “He gets a ton of credit as there were a couple of players on base every time he came up.
“Tanner and all the guys deserve a lot of credit for this win because we knew they had the talent and potential, we just needed them to put it together on the field, which they did.”
McCammon understands the feeling teams have when they put on community colors. The coaches he coached against Tuesday night were some of the same guys he played ball in his youth.
“Baseball is important to the Pace community just like it was in Pensacola when I was growing,” McCammon said. “Kids that grow up together in this kind of environment lead to good community-based high school programs just as those we have at Pace today.
“The adults recognize the rivalry, but it is the kids who are playing the game and having fun.”
Pace’s Road to the Title
PARA 14, NEP Gold 24
PARA 25, Molino 3
PARA 29, Tri-County 5
PARA 20, Gospel Projects World 8
PARA 29, GP American 5
PARA 31, Myrtle Grove 18
PARA 21, Cantonment 4
PARA 21, NEP Gold 14
PARA 23, NEP Gold 14
T-Ball World Series Winners
1970 – Gospel Projects
1971 – Larsen Center
1972 – Brent West
1973 – Larsen Center
1974 – Larsen Center
1975 – Brent West
1976 – Brent West
1977 – Brent West
1978 – Brent West
1979 – NE Pensacola Gold
1980 – Bellview National
1981 – NE Pensacola Gold
1982 – NE Pensacola Gold
1983 – Cantonment
1984 – NE Pensacola Blue
1985 – NE Pensacola Blue
1986 – NE Pensacola Blue
1987 – NE Pensacola Blue
1988 – Warrington
1989 – NE Pensacola Blue
1990 – NE Pensacola Blue
1991 – NE Pensacola Blue
1992 – NE Pensacola Blue
1993 – Myrtle Grove Green
1994 – NE Pensacola Gold
1995 – NE Pensacola Blue
1996 – Myrtle Grove Green
1997 – NE Pensacola Blue
1998 – NE Pensacola White
1999 – NE Pensacola Blue
2000 – NE Pensacola White
2001 – NE Pensacola Blue
2002 – NE Pensacola Gold
2003 - NE Pensacola Gold
2004 – Bellview National
2005 – NE Pensacola Gold
2006 – NE Pensacola White
2007 – NE Pensacola Blue
2008 – NE Pensacola Gold
2009 - Cantonment White
2010 - NE Pensacola Gold
2011 - NE Pensacola Blue
2012 - Pace Athletic Recreational Association