The Braves certainly didn’t waste any time in making their mark, however, as they proceeded to compile a 24-5 record and win three of their five tournaments.
“It’s been a great summer,” Braves manager Matthew Woods said. “The team has played well as a team and every person on the team contributed. We continued to get better throughout the summer. This team played great defense all summer and everybody at the plate has gotten better and we’ve gotten some key hits up and down the lineup. We expected to do well this year, but I didn’t think we would have this kind of success and it’s a tribute to these kids and how well they played in pressure situations.”
The early part of the season was an adjustment period for the Braves as the players on the newly-formed team became acclimated with one another.
“We were just trying to get to know each other,” Woods said. “We didn’t practice at all for a lot of these tournaments. We put together the team in late May and went into playing some tournaments, so it took a little bit for us to get to know each other – for both the coaches and the players.”
After starting off the season by advancing to the semifinals of the Sandy Plains Stars and Stripes Tournament in Alpharetta May 24 through 26, Woods said the Braves began to hit their stride at the Triple Crown Georgia State Championships in Cumming May 30 through June 2 – where they also reached the semifinals.
“The Georgia Triple Crown championships is one of the premier tournaments in the state,” Woods said. “Every top travel ball team plays in that, so going 5-2 and finishing in the semifinals in that tournament is as good – if not better – then some of the tournaments that we won.
“We played some very good competition and the kids kind of came together in that tournament. It was a big turning point for us. Luckily, it happened earlier in the summer and the kids developed a ton of confidence after beating some of those team.
“We beat the No. 2 team and the No. 5 team in the state, so the kids realized they can play with anybody.”
The Braves proceeded to win the Coaches Curing Cancer tournament in Alpharetta June 7 through 9 and the Open Baseball World Series in Dalton June 14 through 16.
They saved their best for last as they won the prestigious Cal Ripken Beach Blast in Myrtle Beach, S.C. June 24 through 28 – featuring some of the best teams in the nation.
“It’s a very big tournament,” Woods said. “No Buckhead team has ever won that tournament. It’s a big accomplishment for this group and it was our goal for the season – our goal was to win Myrtle Beach. Luckily, we accomplished that goal. It’s not many times that a team can win their last game and we did it.”
Team members are Will Hallmark, Park Harber, Robson Harber, Panos Karatssos, Miller Levitt, William Lybrook, Will Sanders, Andrew Schaeffer, Phillip Metzheiser, Jennings McGill and David Underwood.