‘Green’ means ‘gold’ for youth baseball team

The Green Z's Diamond Club 12-and-under captured the USSSA championship. The team is made up of boys from Pelham, Oak Mountain, and Spain Park. (Contributed)

The Green Z’s Diamond Club 12-and-under captured the USSSA championship. The team is made up of boys from Pelham, Oak Mountain, and Spain Park. (Contributed)

By JOE ANTONIO/Community Columnist

Is this heaven? No. It’s Cullman, but the little league park is called “Field of Miracles,” which was the site of the USSSA of Alabama’s most recent youth baseball tournament. However, for nine happy players on the Green Z’s Diamond Club 12 and under team, it may have come pretty close to heaven. The team is made up of boys from Pelham, Oak Mountain, and Spain Park.

This is an eclectic bunch that would otherwise never have had a chance to play together had they played strictly for their respective schools.  In fact, this particular league is quite large and is growing in popularity due to the fact that kids from all over Alabama travel to play against one another in different tournaments across the state each weekend.

This past Sunday, Pelham’s own Green team coached by Ron McNeeley took the tournament trophy in Cullman. The week before, it was Pelham’s Blue team coached by Rex Gillespie winning at Orange Beach.  As you can already assume, the stakes are pretty high for these boys as they appear to be anything but short on talent.

The drama began this past Sunday when the teams were seeded into a bracket after two pool play games. Pelham’s Green team clinched the second seed out of four. They would then defeat the three seed and finally one seed Madison Blaze in a thrilling 7-6 finale.

According to Adam Pate, father of third baseman Evan Pate, Cole Blackwell played like the little league version of Derek Jeter. “He hit just about every time he came up to bat in every game,” Pate said. That’s pretty clutch for a kid who can just now do long division.

The opportunity to participate in this youth league comes twice a year. The spring league begins in January and lasts until June. This is followed by the fall season, which is wrapping up now. A team on average will play 4-6 tournaments each season. This league is perfect for any young baseball enthusiast who is constantly trying to hone his skills for the next level while making a few new friends in the process.