• Bill Caine, Contributing Writer

Woodford Summer Slam brings in big crowds

BRADFORD LACEFIELD slides into second base at the 10th annual Woodford Summer Slam. (Photo by Bill Caine Photography, www.billcaine.com)

The sun was shining and the sounds of a ball hitting a bat filled the air at Woodford County Park last weekend for the 10th annual Woodford Summer Slam. Teams came from all corners of Kentucky and beyond to play in the highly competitive event. Divisions from five and under to 15 and under served up great baseball over the two-day tournament. The turnout at the park was excellent as nearly every space in the park was full. Families came with tents and lawn chairs preparing to spend the weekend in Woodford County. "We had 78 teams from five different states come to play," said tournament coordinator Jamie Thomas. "This is a big sense of accomplishment to hold an event this large and successful. Mother Nature threw us a curve ball Friday night but the team worked hard to play baseball all weekend and we did. We are so appreciative of the families who chose to spend their weekend with us." The travel ball scene has really exploded over the last five years. Teams and their families travel the state and out of state to find the best level of play and the best destinations. Most kids who play travel or "Select" baseball spend their summer evenings and weekends on the diamond. They load up the family van and go where the action is. Coolers are packed along with sunscreen and essentials to beat the heat and survive the weekends on the road. Travel ball is a more competitive brand of baseball. Most of these players have been playing select baseball for several years and are becoming fundamentally sound. These kids will play 50 to 100 games a year between rec leagues and travel. While to some this may seem extreme, the baseball families have welcomed this sort of schedule with open arms. The atmosphere is contagious. The moment you walk up to the field, you get swept up in the action. The parents are vocal, the players in the dugouts are chanting rally cries encouraging teammates and everyone is working the umpire for balls and strikes. The game is a true sensory experience. Away from the fields the coaches are preparing their teams for the next game by hitting grounders or doing soft toss drills with whiffle balls. No stone is left unturned to be ready for the next game. The last pitch of the tournament was thrown minutes before midnight on Sunday. The following teams were declared winners of their respective divisions. 5U, Southeast Lexington; 6U, South Lexington Red; 7U, The Hustle; 8U, South Lexington Red; 9U, Kentucky Rockers; 10U, The Sluggers; 11U, Clark County Legends; 12U, Southern Indiana Red Birds; 13U, Richmond Mudcats; 14U, The Thunder; 15U, Kentucky Rockers.

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