A group of Thomson youngsters is adding a little extra sparkle to the baseball diamond.
The 11-12 year old McDuffie County Recreation Department All-Stars recently won the GRPA District Midget Boys tournament in Bulloch County. Then, at the state championship tourney in Statesboro, the team finished fifth overall.
Dontavious Brown catches a ball at second base during a recent practice.
Thomson started out with a string win over Carrolton, but ended up losing to Colquitt County team and letting themselves get beat by Baldwin County, said Coach Brandon Young.
The team - dubbed the Thomson Bulldogs - is coached by Chris Mohr, Mr. Young and Billie Anderson. Its members are: Dontavious "Juicy" Brown, Garret Mohr, Phillip Anderson, Charlie Barmore, Will Tankersley, Justin Glass, Ronald Jackson, Jesse Usry, Cody Corbit, Abram Cartledge, Michael Studdard and Deonta Stevens.
The Bulldogs went 4-1 in the district tournament, beating Lyons County in the championship game. Along the way, Thomson drubbed Effingham County, slammed Statesboro, and lashed Lyons twice.
In the Effingham County game, Thomson came out strong, posting six runs in the first inning - plenty of cushion for pitcher Phillip Anderson. Meanwhile, Brown slammed two homeruns in the game.
The team poses with their district trophies.
Against Statesboro, the Bulldogs again came out fast. Pitcher Abram Cartledge struck out all three batters he faced in the top of the first, while the Dogs posted five runs in the bottom of the inning. The Dogs eventually won 14-0.
In their third game, Thomson faced Lyons for the first time, winning 4-1 behind the strong pitching of Garrett Mohr and Anderson.
Thomson and Lyons would face off again in the championship game. Since the tournament was a double-elimination event, Thomson only needed to win one game to take home the trophy.
But the win didn't come in the first game.
The Dogs started off hot with Brown hitting the second pitch of the game out of the ball park for his third home run in three days. But shaky pitching did the team in.
Coach Anderson said it seemed like Thomson was snakebit from the start of the day.
"We had trouble from the time we left the ball field in Thomson: the bus showed up late, my kids did not get batting practice at Statesboro High like we had taken prior to every game," he said. "It just was not God's plan for us today. Every thing that could go wrong seemed to happen."
Thomson avenged their only loss in the tournament by coming from behind to beat Lyons in the championship game.
Coach Young said the district championship is the first he can remember since a team he played on seven years ago won one. But he also said he measures the success of the team in things other than trophies. That's one of the reasons he's encouraging the team to keep Christ first.
"If these boys can keep Jesus first and not fall in to temptation of girls, drinking, drugs, in middle and high school and keep the gel and unity I believe they will win a lot of games for Coach Chalker at the middle school and Coach Holder at the high school," he said.
Before each game and practice, Coach Young leads the team in a prayer and uses the Bible as the basis for his pep talks.
"We told the team to be humble but hungry, and not prideful because pride will take you down," he said. "We told them that if they hit a homerun or do something good, thank God because he gave you the ability. The boys had tears in their eyes ready to go to war."
Coach Mohr said he was happy with the community's support of the team, especially Russ Boykin at Stokes Hodges.