(T-G Photo by Gary Johnson)
They will have a chance to further that belief in the Babe Ruth Southeast Regional tonight through Wednesday in Tallahassee, Fla.
Shelbyville, representing Tennessee, drew an opening round bye and will play Saturday morning.
It's the second straight trip to the Regional for this group, who finished third as 14-year-olds last year.
Most of the team has played together in postseason tournaments together since age 8.
They have the total package -- outstanding pitching, great defense and an explosive offensive attack.
Their unbelievable success over the past seven years speaks for itself. Along with the recurring trips to regional play, they've accumulated four state titles and one state runner-up.
They are the only team from Shelbyville to ever win a Babe Ruth state tournament and advance to the Southeast Regional.
In 1999 they won the TYBA State Tournament as 9-year-olds. In 2002 they claimed the 12-year-old Dizzy Dean state championship and participated in the Dizzy Dean World Series in Pensacola, Fla. They were second in the 13-year-old Babe Ruth state tournament and won state titles as 14s and 15s.
They have stockpiled an impressive 38-8 record in Babe Ruth post-season tournaments over the past three years.
This summer they marched undefeated through the district, area and state tournaments. Over those 10 games, they've outscored their opponents 97-17, allowing less than two runs scored per game.
"Our pitching has really been outstanding," Manager Jeff Hicks said. "We've got six or seven pitchers and that's what you need to be successful the deeper you go into the tournaments. We've been able to back our pitching with great defense and some clutch hitting. Hopefully that will carry over into the Southeast Regional."
The team left for Tallahassee early Thursday morning with a number of events waiting upon arrival.
Thursday evening a banquet for players and coaches featured Florida State University baseball coach Mike Martin.
"We are honored to host some of the finest players from no less than seven states to this year's tournament," Southeast Regional Tournament Director Al Basford said. "We have one team each from Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and South Carolina and two teams from North Carolina. Florida is proud to field three teams of its own for this 10-team, double elimination tournament."
Babe Ruth League was established over 50 years ago when a group of men met in a suburb of Trenton, N.J., and formed a program initially called the "Little Bigger League." This group of men eventually agreed to name Marius D. Bonacci as the "founder" of the program.
The program was renamed in 1954 when Claire Ruth, Babe Ruth's widow, who had learned of the merits of the organization and its tremendous growth, met with administrators. She has been quoted as saying, "Babe Ruth was a man who loved children and baseball; he could receive no greater tribute than to have a youth baseball program named after him."
Babe Ruth League, Inc. has increased steadily from its first 10-team league in Hamilton Township, N.J., to its present combined size of over 886,500 players on some 45,200 teams in more than 7,315 leagues.
Thousands of Bedford County baseball players have participated.
This 15 year-old squad is representing all the young men who have played Babe Ruth Baseball in Shelbyville.
* Box scores and a summary of each game can be viewed on the Internet at www.tallybaseball.com.