Chiefland wraps up T-ball State Championships

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Regional championships coming July 5

By Ryan Butler

After five days, 19 flags and 36 games, the Babe Ruth league’s State of Florida Cal Ripkin division T-Ball Championship finished on Sat. June 17. The events at Chiefland’s Strickland Park saw four bracket  winners crowned at the state level. Attention now turns back to Chiefland and the Southeast Regional T-ball World Series July 5.
Chiefland Area Athletic Association president Wayne Weatherford estimated between 2,500-3,000 people showed up over the course of the weekend. With teams coming from all over north-central Florida, many stayed at area hotels and patronized local businesses. Weatherford said he was impressed with the turnout and crowd, noting there were no major disturbances and no one had to be removed from the park.  
“Chiefland does a great job getting things ready to go,” Babe Ruth State T-ball director Wayne Stutzman said.
Four teams crowned champions
Each of the four bracket winners advanced to the Regional chmapionshinship beginning July 5 at Strickland Park. The runner-up in bracket “A”, “B” and “C” also advance, as well as host Chiefland.
Both Orange Park teams won their respective brackets during the tournament. Orange Park “A” coach Brian Grogg lead his team back from a 12-4 deficit in one game and an undefeated record overall.
“I was really proud of (the team),” Grogg said. “They played their hearts out and played with smiles and determination.”
The Crush dominated group “A”, allowing only 38 total runs over four games.
Group “B” champion Fort Caroline may have been even more impressive. The Thunder went 4-0, including an 18-0 shut out win over host Chiefland.
Coach Bobby Gonzalez said his team had to adjust from playing coach pitch. He spent the previous two weeks instructing his players how to hit off a tee. The blow-out wins indicated that they learned quickly.
In group “C”, the Julington Creek Storm made a dazzling run in the team’s first-ever state-level appearance, winning the group with a 4-0 record and scoring the most runs of any team in the tournament.
Orange Park “B” won the tournament’s final game and group “D”. After winning a 36-35 marathon that lasted over two-and-a-half hours, Orange Park battled Branford in the tournament’s final, and seond-longest game.