Tracy Downer, a team mother and wife of one of the assistant coaches, Jeff, died in a car accident July 11 in Douglasville, one day before they were scheduled to leave for Southaven, Miss.
Instead, they ended the season a perfect 19-0, right after winning the Dizzy Dean state championship, and dedicated their season in her honor.
Tracy, 44, was the mother of Braves player Sammy, 9, and Lucy, 6. “We’re going to dedicate this season to her,” Braves manager Lance Beck said. “She was so into this team. She was such a huge part of the team.
“We’re going to have a sign at Buckhead Baseball that’s going to honor the season and honor her. That’s what we have planned right now.”
Braves players served as honorary pallbearers at the funeral, held at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Buckhead July 16.
“This family and this team are intertwined,” Beck said.
The Braves were outstanding all summer, entering four tournaments and winning them all. The team capped its five-game run in the state tournament with a 15-2 win over the NYO Bulls July 4.
Jeff and Tracy Downer scored the contest on www.gamechanger.com.
The Braves got seven runs in the fourth inning alone, getting run-scoring hits by Wright Formasano, Paul Flor and Banks Snellings in the big stanza. Clay Cosgrove had three hits and two RBIs for the Braves as well.
Snellings went the distance, pitching five innings in the shortened game and allowing two earned runs on four hits.
In fact, all 11 players on the team could pitch, giving the Braves major depth on the mound during a special season for these Buckhead All-Stars.
“We had phenomenal pitching, basically just throwing strikes, and we had really good defense behind it,” Beck said. “Our offense was pretty strong, good hitting and phenomenal base running. This was a way we could get a lot of runs against teams that weren’t prepared for super-aggressive base running.”