By Vince O’Neal
A good kind of fever has struck a lot of the youth on the island this past year. If you have seen the boys and girls riding their bikes with baseball gloves hanging on the handlebars you know what I mean. The island youth fielded three teams this year which included ages 7-9, 10-12 and a middle school team from the School. The McDermott family again graciously let the kids use their front yard and that is where the teams practice. It has been affectionately named “McDermott Field” by the players and coaches. Hopefully that will change in the near future as islanders are working to obtain a long overdue field to play on. Also a batting cage net was donated by the Herndon and Outlaw families for practice in the school gym which really showed in their hitting.
The 7 -9 age team were named the Blue Claws, sponsored by Ride the Wind and Happy Belly, and played in the Hatteras/Ocracoke Island Cal Ripken League. They lost their first game of the year, but quickly adapted to playing on a real field. Never looking back after that opening lost, their bats really came alive during the season and their fielding was strong. During the tournament last week they outscored their opponents in three games by a combined score of 30-0 in capturing the crown. Quite a rookie year for these first year players who will no doubt be playing baseball for many seasons in the future.
The 10-12 age Raptor team, sponsored by the Ocracoke Civic Club and Tideland EMC, returned several key players from last year’s championship team and likewise had an outstanding year. With new rookie players onboard filling the holes left by players who had aged out, the team quickly jelled and became stronger as the season progressed. Their bats came alive and steady pitching bested their competition. Just like last year they roared through tournament week undefeated bringing home the championship for the second year in a row. The Ocracoke Dolphins Middle School team were history makers in becoming the school’s first ever baseball team. Their games were against teams from Cape Hatteras, Mattamuskeet and Columbia and played well considering they had never been on a real Varsity size field. They adapted quickly and were competitive in most games while learning their way around the bigger fields. They managed one victory against five losses which is not a true measure of the successful year they had. This team has laid the groundwork for the future Dolphin teams and will be the first varsity team as they advance to high school. All three teams gave it all they had and can be very proud of their accomplishments. The island people surely are.