Local teams ready for bragging rights’ battles

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 4, 2000

The 11-12-year-olds’ bracket of the 2000 Governor’s Cup is starting to take on all of the intrigue and plot twists of a good movie.

There’s the underdog although they object to the term the 11-year-olds’ only Vicksburg Dynamite, striving to cap a great summer with a title run in a bracket that includes 11- and 12-year-olds.

Then there’s the heroes, the Culkin Rockers, 12-year-olds’ Dizzy Dean state champions and World Series runner-up and one of the favorites to win the Governor’s Cup title this weekend.

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Finally, there’s betrayal and conflict, with the Vicksburg Hurricanes, a newly formed 12-year-olds’ team with a familiar player Steven Price, who helped the Culkin 12s to unprecedented success this summer. Price’s father, Shelby, coached Culkin.

The Rockers are the same group of players as the All-Stars, minus Price, Culkin coach Donny Gordon said.

The Hurricanes and Rockers will square off in the first game of the tournament today at 5, setting the stage for a personal battle.

“I have nothing against Steven. He’s a great boy and a great asset to their team.,” Gordon said. Gordon declined to elaborate, other than to say that a lack of communication over Price’s decision to play for the Hurricanes instead of the Rockers may have caused some hard feelings.

Shelby Price also declined to comment on the matter, and complimented the Culkin team.

“They have an excellent team and they’ll probably win the tournament,” Shelby Price said.

Shelby Price did defend his son’s decision to play for the Hurricanes, however.

“We played district, state and world, and that’s where it ended. My boy is not attached to any team,” he said.

The Culkin players are simply eager to play against their friend.

“It’d just be fun,” first baseman David Holloman said.

The Dynamite, meanwhile, are also itching to get a piece of another Warren County team. They want to see how they stack up against the biggest dogs on the block, Dynamite coach William “Boozer” Emerson said.

“They’re really tough. I’ve heard nothing but great things about them,” Emerson said. “I’d like to play them. They have big barrel bats, but I’d like to play them with regular bats.”

Emerson was quick to point out that a larger bat isn’t the only difference between the teams. Age, and the physical development that goes with it, is also a factor.

“I would put the Culkin 11s and our 11s in the top three (in the state) probably. You can’t really compare us and (the Rockers) …. I’d put all of us in the top five,” he said. “It’s a shame the Culkin 11s can’t be in it, because three of the top five teams in the state are right here in Vicksburg.”

The Culkin Critters, who won the Governors’ Cup title last year and advanced to the quarterfinals of the 11-year-olds’ Dizzy Dean World Series in July, opted to skip the Governor’s Cup this year.

“We had a couple of kids that went out of town and some that were tired. We’ve been on the road for four straight weeks,” Critters coach Bubba Mims said. “We had five or six that dropped out ….”

Emerson said the Dynamite were also a bit fatigued, but wanted to play in the Governor’s Cup in front of a hometown crowd.

“We’re treating this kind of as a reward for our kids, and I hope the parents are as enthusiastic as they were down in the regional and at Wiggins,” Emerson said, referring to the Cal Ripken state tournament.

One thing all of the teams shared was confidence. While all were hoping for a Vicksburg-Culkin final, each player seemed assured that their team would come away with bragging rights.

“I think we’re going to win it, because we’ve really improved over the last two weeks,” Dynamite first baseman Andy Anderton said.

Culkin center fielder Eric Douglas was also confident.

“If we just play hard, never give up, then we’ve got this in the bag,” he said.