VALDOSTA -- This year's Georgia Recreation and Parks Association (GRPA) 12-year olds state baseball tournament will have a distinct Valdosta flavor.
The tournament will be played in the Azalea City, at Vallotton Youth Complex. And four of the eight teams competing call Valdosta home.
The tournament begins Wednesday and runs through Saturday at Vallotton.
The visiting teams -- Savannah, Spaulding County, Adairsville and District 4 -- are virtual unknowns to the local teams. But the local teams know each other very well, because the players have competed against each other for years.
"Like I said to Tag, it's not like we have any secret weapons, because we know each other so well," Rec and Parks National coach Ricky Rowe said.
"We all know each other," Boys Club National coach Tag Welch said. "I've coached about six or seven kids playing for (one of the other teams). We know what batters to pitch around and everything.
"I talked to Ricky (Thursday), and I said, 'I hope we play each other Saturday,' because that would mean we were both in the finals."
Rowe's team and Welch's team split two games recently.
To reach the finals, the National teams may have to go through the American teams from the Boys Club and from Rec and Parks, who also expect to make a run at the title.
"We'll be competitive," Boys Club American coach Steve Browning said. "We can't make a lot of mistakes, though, because these teams are so good. All four local teams are good."
"We want to be competitive," Rec and Parks American coach Jud West said. "We won't overpower teams. We'll have to win with good defense and consistent pitching. But I think we have a better than average chance to win some games.
"A lot of Tag's players have played for me, and I know a lot of the players on Ricky's team and Steve's team. We know each other, and pretty much know what each other is going to do."
Boys Club National, coached by Welch and assistants Michael Burnham, Jay Wilson and Stacey Rawls, will have infielders Bryant Alonso, Colby Register, John Mark Stephenson, Stuart Brooks, Cole Fuller, and Wesley Welch, outfielders Brandon Gilbert, Hardy Bennett, and Jay Wilson, and catchers Lee Rewis and Clay Edwards playing for them.
Boys Club American, coached by Browning and assistants Dale Hritz and Mike Moore, is made up of: Tanner Allen, Andy Griffin, Zachary Mize, Justin Browning, Mike Moore and David Mize in the infield, Jacob Gervacio, Matt Mitchell, Todd Baker, Michael Miller, Javier Medina and Brent Hritz in the outfield, and Jake Barton catching.
Rec and Parks National, coached by Rowe and assistants Herb Reinhard and Mark Karras, has Adam Rigoni, Herb Reinhard, Kyle Rowe, Carter Karras, Kyler Kirkland, Brady Brantley and Preston Taylor in the infield, Stephen Moore, Harrison West and Kevin Rump in the outfield, and Nick Clark catching. Another player, Chad Prain, is injured.
Rec and Parks American is coached by West and assistants David Griffin and Jeff Fulp. The players are: infielders Russ Newbern, Gabe Cason, Taylor Fulp, Tommy Cangelosi and Mikey Padgett, outfielders Hoyt Bush, Dylan Cowart, Nathan Smith, Jeremy Rhodes, Brandon Grey and Cameron Venus, and catcher Tyler Yelito. Most of the American team is 11-year olds, players who should be back in this tournament next year, likely as one of the favorites.
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