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All-stars shine bright at tourney|Coastal Plains 18U team places fourth in SE regional

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
The Coastal Plains Senior Babe Ruth 18U squad returned from Tennessee having put forth a dynamite effort at the Southeast Regional tournament last weekend where it placed fourth out of nine teams.
The Coastal Plains all-stars feature several area players. Jake Duke, Will Swain, Brandon Thomas and Michael Robinson each hail from Washington. Joining them are Williamston’s Christian Leggett, along with Bear Grass’ Caleb Hines and Josh Greenhaul.
The team blew away the competition during the state tournament, getting a combination of quality pitching and timely hitting to capture a state crown and advance to the Southeast Regional.
In Tennessee, the all-stars stumbled in the first game as they fell to Alabama, but rebounded nicely with a thrilling 12-11 win over Northern Florida. In a back-and-forth game, the all-stars had the final momentum surge when Hines, with the bases loaded and two outs, laid down a perfect bunt to the third base side of the field to score the winning run.
Coastal Plains carried that momentum into its next game, topping Marshall, the host team, 7-3 behind great pitching performances by Hines (4 inn., 2 R, 1 H) and Robinson (3 inn., 1 R, 2 H).
The all-stars were dealt their second and final loss in their next game as they could not hold on to a 4-1 lead against Virginia. However, the all-stars came home finishing in the top five in the Southeast Region.
“We had a tough first game with Alabama. In our second and third games with Northern Florida and the host team, Marshall County, we hit the ball hard and played great defense behind our pitching,” Coastal Plains coach Joe Duke said. “The fourth game with Virginia we were ahead 4 -1 going into the fourth inning, but we made some mental mistakes and let our guard down for that one inning and it cost us the game. I believe we were the better team pound-for-pound. That one inning was the difference in the game and us advancing to the next round with Southern Florida.”
More important than wins and losses, Duke said the conduct of his team was outstanding.
“This group of young men assembled for this all-star team were a class act from the very beginning,” Duke said. “They came together as a team and showed class in victory and in defeat. There is a fine line in sports between that arrogance needed to keep an edge and a cockiness that will make you look bad in other’s eyes. This group had that arrogance and never crossed over to cocky. They won a lot of hard fought games and never, never once gave up. I consider myself privileged to have been able to coach these young men and wish them the very best for their future.”
Duke said that plenty of people had a hand in helping the Coastal Plains all-stars obtain success and was very appreciative of their help.
 “I would like to thank the parents for all the hard work in getting sponsors for this team and for all their support of their children,” Duke said. “I would also like to thank Bobby Jay Boyd for his help coaching this season. He has tagged along with me for a lot of years coaching travel ball and Legion ball and it has been a lot of fun.”