When the East Nashville Little League All-Stars battled their way to a 10-0 win over Murfreesboro this past weekend, it wasn’t just an isolated victory. As winners of the district championship, the East Nashville ballclub won the right to advance to the state tournament, and it was a confirmation of the astounding comeback that East Nashville Little League has achieved in the last four years.
“The flood on 2010 devastated the East Nashville program because everyone left and had to go somewhere else to play,” says East Nashville Athletics President Darrell Downs. “In 2012, we were down to 12 teams. We’re now up to 29 in all the age categories. We've had a great season, and this is the first time in our history that East Nashville Little League has won the district and advanced to the state.”
The growth of the East Nashville program and the success they are enjoying is attributable to several factors, Downs says.
“Some of it is the result of new people moving to East Nashville, but it's also people hearing about our program and coming down and seeing it in action. The numbers have really increased in the younger age divisions, and our 11-13-year-old teams were very strong this year. They've been playing for several years, and they worked so hard all winter to hone their craft and become better players. Our pitching is deep. We have seven kids we can put on the mound, and in any type of tournament play, having a good supply of great pitchers really helps.”
“The coaches have really helped our kids. All of them — Nick Ewald, Josh Kagenski, Hunter Gee, and Matt Butler — spent countless hours working with the players. I can remember when we were getting beat 20 something to nothing and the games were ending in the third inning. Now we've come back and are really making a name for ourselves.”
The Tennessee State Little League tournament will be held at Field of Dreams Park in Dandridge Tennessee starting this Saturday. More information can be found on the East Nashville Little League Facebook page.
“I believe we have a great opportunity to win the State,” Downs says. “Our players are playing smart baseball right now. It's a very exciting time for us, and all of East Nashville should be proud.”