By VAN HOLLAND
I really enjoyed covering the Tarboro 12-under All-Star team during their run towards the Little Tar Heel state title even though they fell short Sunday.
These 12 kids played their hearts out each and every game and showed why they were successful leading up to the championship game. They can crown themselves champions in their own rights and have nothing to be ashamed of.
I had the privilege to get to know all 12 of these fine young athletes as I covered the two tournaments. These kids are a special group of talented young men who grew up fast right before their parent's eyes.
Each one of these kids played with lots of class, heart and determination. I never heard a kid complain about playing time or the fact that they didn't get to bat as many times as others on the team. Each kid knew what their roll was on the team and knew exactly what it would take to win baseball games. All 12 got playing time at some time or another.
All of that wouldn't have been possible without the leadership of the coaching staff. Head coach Bill Howerin, assistants Mitch Johnson, Mike Riley and Ken Oliver took a lot of time away from their families to coach this team. It was a long drawn out process that took a lot of coaching strategy to get those 12 kids to the pinnacle they advanced towards.
Some of you may not agree, but this team has to go down as one of the top 12-under baseball teams to play for Tarboro.
No, they didn't play the likes of Southern Pitt or Greenville, but they did play against teams that were filled with lots of talent, especially the Rocky Mount team that beat them for the state title. The enjoyment of the Little Tar Heel tournaments are teams are playing against opponents that pick their all-star teams from the same size towns as Tarboro.
The coaching staff was pleased with their teams overall performance in both tournaments and they couldn't have ask for a better group of young men.
Howerin has been in the coaching business in Tarboro Parks and Recreation leagues for 37-years and has seen a lot of talent come through during his tenure.
He was impressed by this certain group of young men as they shined on every level and did things that at times didn't amaze him, because he knew these kids had the talent to accomplish the goals that they did.
On Saturday, Tarboro had to win two games to play for the title and they won both in dramatic fashion. Mike WIggins hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the first game and Jesus Garcia hit a three-run homer in the second game to put Tarboro in the title game.
These athletes all played as a unit. If one failed then the next one seem to pick him up and make sure they were productive.
So if you see one of these all-star players or coaches, make sure you tell them thanks for representing the town with class and for playing as hard as they did during their 11 games in both tournaments. They truly deserve to be honored not only with trophies but by showing them appreciation for what they accomplished.