The Fort Payne 10U baseball team swept the competition at the USSSA Global State Tournament Saturday in Scottsboro.
The Wildcats won the three games they played in the tournament by a combined score of 32-8.
In the championship game, Fort Payne dominated at the plate and on the mound.
Ethan McElhaney had a fast start on the mound striking out the first two batters he faced. A pop fly to left retired the side and sent the Wildcats’ bats to the plate in the bottom of the first.
A one-out single by Andrew Gullage and a couple errors by the defense allowed Fort Payne to send seven batters to the plate and score three runs in the inning.
Coach Johnny Johnson said the team has done a good job hitting this season.
“We’ve seen flashes at times of good, consistent hitting,” Johnson said. “These were definitely the most complete tournament games we’ve played at all season.”
McElhaney gave up a lead-off double to start the second inning. That runner scored, but McElhaney avoided more damage by striking out two more batters in the inning. Heading to the bottom of the second, Fort Payne led 3-1.
John Thomas Johnson and Bentley Coffee led off with back-to-back singles to start the inning. Luke Patton then drew a walk to load the bases with no outs. The Wildcats couldn’t capitalize on the scoring opportunity though, and the score remained 3-1 after two.
McElhaney continued to overwhelm opposing batters in the top of the the third. In 16 pitches he struck out the side and fired up his teammates as the Wildcats went to bat again.
In seven batters, Fort Payne didn’t record a base hit but scored three runs thanks to an error, two walks, a sacrifice fly by Johnson and a couple stolen bases. The Wildcats jumped out to a 6-1 lead heading to the fourth inning.
McElhaney kept pounding the strike zone in the fourth. He struck out the first batter he saw and then gave up a single to the next batter. He then picked off the runner at first and struck out the third batter to retire the side.
Coach Johnson said McElhaney has been strong on the mound.
“He’s been a great pitcher in big games for us this year,” Johnson said. “He throws with good velocity, and can hit the strike zone consistently.”
Nolan Fowler and Caleb Kilgo both walked to start the bottom of the fourth. Gullage followed with a single and then McElhaney doubled to score three more runs for the Wildcats.
The team coasted to a 9-1 victory and celebrated their first tournament win of the season.
Five Wildcats were given All-Tournament honors. McElhaney was named Tournament MVP and Patton, Kilgo, Johnson and Gullage were named to the All-Tournament Team.
The Wildcats play over the weekend at another USSSA State Tournament in Cullman.