Auburndale baseball

The Auburndale Babe Ruth baseball program captured five All-Star District 12 titles recently at Lake Myrtle Park. 

The league’s Minor, Major, 9-and-under, T-ball and Rookie teams will all advance to their respective state tournaments later this summer. 

“That’s a record,” said Auburndale President Annie Thackston. 

Three teams captured titles on Tuesday, June 14, at Lake Myrtle after an early evening lightning delay. 

Auburndale’s Major All-Stars used some nifty fielding and additional pitching exercises to hold off Lakeland Highlands, 11-6, for the title. 

“We started the previous game taking a simplified approach to hitting,” said Coach Ben Carr. “We put the bat on the ball and let the pressure of that get us out.”

The team’s pitchers also received extra conditioning with coach Frank Holley to strengthen their muscles and help with consistency and control.

Teamwork was also heavily in play. 

“We carry 14 players,” Carr said. “We believe very much in a team approach. We cycle our players through and use the entire team to give us strength. It makes the players earn (playing time) and be very hungry.” 

Jayden Willis knocked in two runs for Auburndale. Drey Brokenburr, Gavin Mince, and Max Merryman also notched RBI. Also playing for Auburndale were Noah Pena, Mason Rowe, Noah Moore, Garrett Futch, Michael Carr, Charles Arguelles, Austin Preston, Kason Zurawski, Sebastian Zuniga and Zion White.  

William Thompson and Austin Tyree hit back-to-back home runs in the third inning for Lakeland Highlands. Auburndale Majors play in Fort Myers beginning June 29. 

Auburndale edged Eagle Lake, 4-3, in a minor game that went past midnight to determine a champion. 

Playing for Auburndale were: Kyle Brattlie, Ethan Chenoweth, Tucker Combee, Micah Coulson, Brody Dean, Judah Forquer, Elijah Gerrow, Luke Harrison, James Hatley, Cainen Menees, Grayson O’Neal, Jaydon Peltier, Alexander Vences and Kaleb Wilson. Their state tournament is July 6-10 in Ocala. 

Auburndale mathematically defeated Eagle Lake, 17-8, to claim the T-ball championship. 

With a six-run per inning limit, the game concluded when Auburndale scored four runs in the fourth inning and managed three quick outs in the field in the bottom of the fourth to take the game. 

Auburndale got off to a strong start, tallying six runs in each of the first two innings. Grant Springer and Braxton Hughes each drove in two runs. Caleb Parra scored three runs from the leadoff spot. Waylon Meadows, Jackson Smith, James Clouse, William Hatley and Bently Keyt belted in runs. Also playing for Auburndale were Easton Danforth, Liam Woehlert and Gavin Boswell. 

The state T-ball tournament begins June 22 in Palm Beach Gardens. 

The Auburndale Rookie (ages 7-8) All Stars also won mathematically over Lakeland Highlands, 14-6, due to the rule allowing seven runs per inning in the age group. 

“They really hit the ball in the last two games,” said coach Tyler Willis. 

Auburndale reached the finals with an 11-1 win over Lakeland Highlands. Playing for Auburndale were Luis Atencio, Maverick Boyd, Everett Futch, Brody Guy, Corbin Guy, Matthew Johns, Stetson Kader, Jordyn McCoy, Jacob Melvin, Miguel Pena, Aaron Rios, Cassiel Velez and Barrett Willis. 

The Rookies head to Palm Beach Gardens June 22 for states. 

The 9-and-under Auburndale team won by the run rule in two games over South Lakeland, 20-2 and 24-2 to take the title in the double-elimination event. 

They advance to the state tournament in Okeeheelee, June 29-July 3 with: Omar Gonzalez, Rayden Raulerson, Gage Patterson, Luke Chelf, Knox Wilson, Logan White, Luke Johnston, Mannix Nelson, Asher Russell, Conley Willis, Jackson Carlino, Micah Forquer and Brence Kruschke. 

Bartow shut out Auburndale 14-0 to open the 14-and-under division. The Bartow All-Stars rallied from a 5-2 deficit with a seven-run, fifth inning to pave the way for a 13-5 win in the second and decisive contest between the two. 

Bartow heads to Sarasota July 13-17 for the state tournament with: Ka’manon Thomas, La’Quavion Everett, Kendric Stacey, Keilan Elliott, Luis Aguirre, Trillyon Venz, DaQuan Culpepper, Tory Dopson, B.J. Alston, Joshua Garrison and Chauncey Goldwire. 

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