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Youth teams get their time to shine

A number has been referenced several times in this space – 51, if you don’t remember, which is the number of high school athletic teams covered by The Clanton Advertiser – to explain how difficult it can be to give everyone their due in the Advertiser’s sports section.

One of my goals is to give every player in our coverage area the credit he or she deserves, but this task requires even more effort than I let on. If we stopped at 51 teams, we would exclude many local people that deserve mention. There are hunters, there are fishermen, there are church league softball teams, there are youth football camps, there are B teams, there are JV teams, there are junior high teams, there are marathons.

One group of athletes I think has been particularly neglected is youth baseball and softball players. This isn’t by choice; it’s just lack of manpower. The scope of these teams is overwhelming: there are different age groups, different leagues in different towns and different organizing bodies (NSA, ASA, Dixie Youth, Dizzy Dean).

Sure, we run the obligatory team picture when a local group wins a tournament, but I think these young men and women deserve more. That’s what I hope to give them.

In the coming days, look for the Advertiser to feature more youth coverage than maybe you’re used to. First, there’s the story on this page, about a team that includes local product Stevie Martin. Next, Thursday’s edition will contain a story about Freedom Fastpitch softball – how the program grew into three squads and how all three will participate in World Series events this year.

Then, in Friday’s paper, expect a preview of the Dixie Youth 9- and 10-year-old state tournament that will be held in Clanton from Friday through July 24. Opening ceremonies for this event will include a home run derby and a couple of speakers, and the games will surely keep me occupied into next week.

Packaged with this story will be a “Where Are They Now?” feature on the last Clanton baseball team to win a state championship. This team, the 1990 11- and 12-year-old all-stars, also hosted the state tournament. Does that bode well for the current all-stars?

Stay tuned to www.clantonadvertiser.com and our printed edition to find out.