This group of young players not only claimed a state championship, but also the Dixie World Series title.

The problem Ryan Smith has now is keeping it all together.

Smith is still floating on cloud nine after his team of Fort Mill All-Star 8U Coach Pitch team won the Division I AA Dixie Youth Baseball World Series earlier this week in Laurel, Miss.

“It is good to represent the town and be a part of the history books,” Smith said.

His team, made up of 12 local players, returned to town with a parade of support that Smith said overwhelmed him and the team.

“It was probably one of the best 15 minutes of my life,” he said. “It was an extremely special moment. The kids were banging on the windows. We were going crazy on the bus. Some of us even cried.”

Already state champions, the Fort Mill team representing South Carolina played seven games in four days and cruised to the title. Since the team of All-Stars were formed after coach pitch season finished, they went 17-0 in a run to the World Series title.

In those 17 games, they scored 189 runs and only allowed 33. They also had 10 mercy rule games, meaning they beat their opponents by at least 10 runs, which stopped the game automatically after four innings. They also had seven shutouts in those 17 games.

Smith said he knew the team was special when it was formed, but didn’t realize how good they were.

“I knew we were good,” he said. “I didn’t know we were this good.”

Winning the state title was one thing, but Smith said he had no idea what to expect in Mississippi.

“Our defense is what won it,” he said.

The tournament featured other state champions and had 12 teams from 11 states involved, including host, Laurel. South Carolina opened the tournament with a 14-0 thrashing of Arkansas and moved on to face Alabama. The Alabama team gave them some issues, but they managed to win 5-4 to advance.

The Palmetto state team would then face host Laurel and again win in a runaway fashion by a 15-8 score, putting them in a match-up against Tennessee, where they would get an 8-1 win. The win put them in the championship of the double-elimination tournament against Virginia, where they would need to lose twice to be eliminated. That didn’t happen as they got another shutout win with a 4-0 championship clinching win over Virgina. 

Now that the season is over, Smith said he wishes it wasn’t. Some of those kids are moving up to other age groups, and Smith will be right with them.

“We will keep most of the boys together to see if there is another championship, we can make a run at,” he said.

The Fort Mill squad consist of Ethan Rodriguez, Clay Swenson, Jace Griffin, Gordon Owino, Ishaan Alluri, Brady Childers, Calvin Krantz, Easton Nesteruk, Henry Herchek, Tyler Teaver, Graham Mattox and Chase Smith. They are coached by Smith, Jad Griffin, Chris Mattox and Kevin Nesteruk.

Mac Banks:, @fortprep