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Root, root, root for the home team

By By Michael S. Hill
Staff Writer
Two out of five ain't bad. In fact, I'm referring to Atmore's Big Cheeses, the El Numero Uno's, the Kings of the Mountain … the Cal Ripken Baseball State Champs. Atmore's 11- and 12-year-old state titles are one, well, two for the ages.
But is it any wonder that Atmore produced dual champs? Personally, I've never seen a town more engrossed in little league baseball. And by "town" I mean everyone – players, coaches, parents and fans. Surely there are some people in Atmore who just don't care for little league baseball, that might even get ticked at all the coverage the sport gets, especially in lieu of other summer sports.
But man, I don't care if they were little league hockey teams. State champs are state champs, and that ought to get you excited no matter what.
Seeing the players' expressions and emotions during a heated game was enough to sell me. They play the game the way it was meant to be played – from the heart.
In little league baseball, there are no signing bonuses or shoe contracts to cloud the game. To the guys on the field, it's just a simple, uncomplicated ballgame, and it's the game's simplicity that allows its adoration from players and fans.
And to be a part of a state championship, in any capacity, is thrilling. It's something that will never be forgotten. Years on down the road, these kids will be recounting these, their glory days, to their children and grandchildren.
So now it's off to Florence for the 12-year-olds and to Spartenburg, S.C., for the 11-year-olds. Can you even fathom the thought of our boys winning the regionals, of playing in the World Series?
Come on, all you hockey fans. Now is the time to rally behind our guys. Even if you hate baseball, you have to love the chase. Let's send the fellas off with a full head of steam and one mission in mind – to play hard, have a blast, and make memories that'll last a lifetime.