By Colby Edds
PIGEON FORGE, TN – Only a few teams away from reaching the century mark, NET Elite’s Memorial Day Championship was the group’s largest event of the year so far. Like the holiday it shared the date with, the 92 team tournament was filled with plenty of fun and fireworks in all age groups from 8u-13u.
Once again, the 8u division did not disappoint with tons of exciting action and entertainment. There were plenty of high scoring games throughout the weekend, especially on Saturday, where 10 teams reached double digits in runs. One of the most notable games from pool play was a matchup between Diamond White and Crusaders. Diamond White came out with the W 12-11 to solidify their spot in the gold bracket as the Crusaders dropped to the silver bracket where they ended up winning taking home the hardware. As for the gold bracket, an impressive 3 game run was made by the #3 seed TN Braves to take home the championship as they defeated the talented Hendersonville Rangers 8-5 in the final game.
Some fierce competition was brought to the table in 9u. During Saturday’s pool play games, half of the matchups were decided by 4 runs or less. When pool play finished up, we were left with only 3 teams at 2-0: Young Guns, Hendersonville Rangers and the FTK Longhorns. In the gold bracket, the Young Guns pulled out a tight 3-2 victory over East Tennessee Elite and then impressively shut out the West Virginia 8-0 to win it.
In the 9u Silver bracket, it wasn’t quite the Hatfield vs McCoy’s, but it was a battle of 2 teams that hailed from Central Kentucky, as the Central Kentucky Siders defeated the Central Kentucky Mudcats by a count of 11-2.
Saturday’s scores in the 10u division were somewhat lopsided, but everyone seemed to flip the switch on Sunday with championships on the line. In the gold bracket semi’s the East TN Yankees defeated the Marion Bombers 5-2 and the Paintsville Yankees defeated the Tri State Hawkeyes 4-3. This set up a battle of the Yankees from Tennessee and Kentucky, (A little ironic, right?). East TN defeated Paintsville 6-1 to win the division.
Then, down in the silver bracket, the Gainesville Braves pushed through the bracket to win 8-2 over the Kingsport Tribe and 12-4 over Diamond Simcox Blue to take home the silver bracket trophies.
There were so many notable matchups in the 11u bracket that it was hard to pick out only a couple. The Knoxville Fire dropped a close back and forth game to the Crusaders 11-10 at Wears Valley to start the day. The Bradley Thunder showed a short memory after getting shutout by the Tribe, they came out and defeated a solid Greeneville Marlins Team 6-3.
In bracket play, the Patriots utilized the ability to hit the long ball to win the gold championship as they finished the day with 5 homeruns. In the silver bracket, the Outlaws narrowly escaped from the Boiling Springs Thunder Dogs as they won 11-10 to make it the championship game vs the Central KY Sliders. But it was, again, the Sliders who took home the organization’s second trophy of the weekend.
In the bronze 11u bracket the JC Thunder had little trouble defeating the Virginia Hitmen 8-0 and the Knoxville Fire 6-1 to win their bracket.
The 12u bracket seems to always be jam packed with quality competition and solid teams from all over the southeast, and that definitely was no different this weekend! 5 teams finished pool play 2-0 and they ranked out as follows: Young Guns, Crusaders, Tri County Athletics, Central KY Mudcats, Diamond Simcox Blue.
In bracket play, the Tri County Athletics seem to always find their way into the final games of our tournaments, and this weekend they finally took home some trophies as the talented group won the gold bracket defeating the Tri Cities Stars (4-0), Crusaders (7-6), and Central KY Mudcats (12-3).
The Yard Dogs came out with a couple hard fought one run wins vs the Tri State Hawkeyes and Paintsville Yankees to make their way to the silver bracket championship where they faced Diamond USA who had cruised passed the Elizabethton Twins and East Cobb Mets. The Yard Dogs proved to be too much to handle as they came out on top 8-1.
13u was one of the bigger divisions of the weekend, resulting in 3 bracket championships after pool play. The 4 teams to finish 4-0 in pool play were the East TN Crusaders, Greeneville Marlins, Garnet Crush, and RBI Blazers. While all of these teams were very solid, the Crusaders came out the top dog defeating the RBI Blazers in the semi’s and Garnett Crush in the championship.
In the silver bracket, the Tennessee Pioneers showed some excellent stamina and grit, winning 2 8-7 ballgames over Diamond Gray and the RBI Rangers. But in the end, they came up a little short as they fell to the Tribe.
The bronze division held at Gatlinburg Pittman showed us what determination is all about as the South Kentucky Knights finished 0-2 in pool play and received the last seed, yet came back on Sunday and won the division at GP. They came out with 3 clutch wins over Phoenix (6-0) Cabarrus Bombers (10-5) and the JC Thunder (10-6).
I would like to thank everyone who had a hand in making this a very positive and successful tournament! We had a lot of diversity and even more quality teams and players. All of us at NET Elite had a blast, and we hope you did as well! We hope to see you again very soon!