Published 12:00 am Friday, June 29, 2007
Team goes from ‘Ugly Ducking’ to Swan
By Myra Bean
“This is the kind of team they make movies about,” said Wooly Boogers head coach Michael Dunlap. “Everybody was laughing at us, but the guys just refused to give up the last 10 days.”
The Wooly Boogers ended the season on a 10-game win streak and the USSSA AA State Championship Sunday.
The team won the last four games and the championship of the Snowden Classic in Southaven and six games in the state tournament in New Albany last weekend.
“I have never had a team that just absolutely refuses to lose,” the summer league coach of 35 years said.
Dunlap still looked a little shell shocked that this team who had lost five games in a tournament earlier in the season actually pulled off the state tournament championship.
“We had seven or eight players from last year’s team who came back to play this year,” Dunlap said. “Others refused to continue to play, saying they were embarrassed.”
Dunlap could only call the last two seasons “bad” as wins were very elusive for the 14 and under team.
In 2003 the 16 and under Wooly Boogers team was expected to win the state tournament, Dunlap said. This year’s team was expected to provide a practice game for others.
The tournament started last Thursday in New Albany with the Wooly Boogers ranked third in the state. The Wooly Boogers defeated the Ridgeland Titans 9-7.
They exited pool play seeded No. 2. In the elimination round, the Wooly Boogers defeated the Mantachie Indians 15-8 in international rules for extra innings.
The game was tied at seven at the end of regulation. Mantachie loaded the bases with no outs in the first round, but the Wooly Boogers held.
“We scratched and fought our way through and held them,” Dunlap said.
In the second extra inning, Mantachie scored one run and the Wooly Boogers scored eight. In international rules, one runner is on at second and each team has one out.
Later that evening, the Wooly Boogers downed the North Mississippi Hurricanes out of Oxford 8-7.
Sunday, the Wooly Boogers defeated the Desoto County Warriors 12-9.
In the championship game, the Wooly Boogers won over Nettleton 7-0 by a forfeit. Nettleton violated pitching rules.
The Wooly Boogers is normally a team of players from across North Mississippi. This year all but two players are from Panola County. Eric Brozovich is from Greenville and Drew Pratt is from Water Valley.
Other team members include Austin Gant, Dennis Draper, Cody Gray, Lee Self, Kendrick Market, Hunter Robison, Will Dunlap, Chase Bruce and Michael Magee. Other coaches are Chris Pike and Ricky Gray.
“We have been the ‘Ugly Ducklings’ for two years,” Dunlap said. “Last year they played over their heads. Seven or eight of them stuck it out and have been rewarded. They persevered. That’s what makes them special.”