Local All-Star team heads to World Series

The Sandhills Optimist 11U All-Star baseball team is heading to the World Series tournament after winning the state championship.

The team consists of 12 All-Stars from the Sandhills Optimist Club in Southern Pines. Sandhills Optimist League plays its regular season games at Memorial Park. The 2023 Cal Ripken State Tournament was held in Asheville on June 23-26; after winning the state championship, the team is now 5-0.

This is the first season Sandhills Optimist is competing in the Carl Ripken League. In years past, they were part of the Tar Heel League. This All-Star team also won the state championship last season in the Tar Heel League.

During the offseason, they joined the Cal Ripken League. This allowed the opportunity for the All-Star team to advance to a World Series if they won another state championship.

The boys have played together for two years in travel ball and on the All-Star team.

“They are a true team,” said head coach Josh Wilhelm. “The players, coaches, and parents have been together for two years and are an elite group.”

Outscoring their opponents 44-8 in just five games shows their explosive offense and their disciplined defense.

“They are a really tough group, selfless; it’s all about the team. They are probably one of the fastest teams in the state, and the coaches have been incredible,” said Wilhelm.

The team heads to Jensen Beach, Florida, July 28- Aug. 6, for the World Series tournament. This is the first time a team from Sandhills Optimist has made it to this level. Last year, West Raleigh won the World Series with over 20 teams competing.

“They are super excited to represent not just Moore County but the state of North Carolina on a world level. There were a lot of smiles and tears when talking with the team,” said Wilhelm.

According to the tournament website, the brackets and teams competing are still being determined. All games will be livestreamed at baberuthworldseries.org.

Sandhills Sentinel wishes the best of luck to the following players: Mason Gonzalez, Will Wallace, Owen Wilhelm, Brock Wood, Caleb Stein, Owen Crowder, Kaiden Taveras, Kyle Brown, Cash Lambert, Casey McBride, Colin Carlisle, and Ford Kuester. Coaches: Josh Wilhelm, Michael Crowder, Bobby McBride, Kurt Stein, and JT Taveras. 

Feature photo: Sandhills Optimist wins the state championship in Asheville. Photo by Josh Wilhelm.

Sandhills_Sentinel~Written by Sandhills Sentinel reporter Curtis Self.

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