Flying High

Vinemont’s 12-and-under (top) and 14-and-under (bottom) teams pose for pictures at their home stadium. The squads recently made trips to the Dizzy Dean World Series in Southaven, Mississippi.

If this summer’s been any indication, the future of Vinemont baseball appears extremely bright.

The Vinemont All-Stars practically made Southaven, Mississippi, their home the past two weekends, first sending their 14-and-under team west for the Dizzy Dean World Series and then quickly returning with their 12-and-under club.

The entire program arrived home with competitive results and enough memories to last a lifetime.

"It was definitely a dream come true for us," said 12U head coach David Miller. "It was just a blessing to be able to go and take our kids and compete the way we did. It really showed a lot about Vinemont baseball and where it's headed in the next few years."

Miller's squad finished second in the consolation bracket and 10th overall with a 4-3 showing. Not bad for a team that didn't even know it'd made the World Series until a week before the tournament.

Automatic qualifiers were taken first, leaving Vinemont's 12U unit to sneak in as a wild card based on their state performance.

That was just fine with Miller, who happily headed back to Mississippi with his younger son, Colby, after already having watched his older son, Lucas, on the 14U stage.

The Millers weren't the only ones with father-son connections.

Six years after leading his eldest sons, KC and Duncan, to the 16U World Series, Barry Hopper had the fortune of also coaching his youngest son, Travis, in this season's 14U Dizzy Dean shindig — with help from the aforementioned KC and Duncan, no less.

Go ahead and call it a coaching trifecta.

"Not very many dads get to carry all their sons to do something like this," Barry said. "That was actually really nice to get to do."

Vinemont's 14U bunch, which qualified by taking third in the state on their home field, won their first World Series game before running into some stiff competition in Tallapoosa and Rossville, both from Georgia. Tallapoosa went on to secure runner-up honors.

Hopper and Co. were also third in the state when they advanced in 2010.

"To have two teams go over there the same year, it's a pretty good deal, especially for a small school like Vinemont," Hopper said. "Realistically, the next three or four years, we're going to be pretty decent in baseball."

Vinemont’s 12U team, which was coached by Miller and assistants Kevin Williams, James Samples, Jeremy Thomason, was comprised of Jarrett Friedrich, Bosten McDuffee, Preston Williams, Braden Boner, Colby Miller, Ayden Thomason, Curtis Kennedy, Will Rhodes, Ryan Stewart, Deacon Samples, Chayce Sandlin and Keith Slaton.

Vinemont’s 14U team, which was coached by the Hoppers and assistant Frank Gingrich, was made up of C.J. O’Neil, Dakota McGraw, Jack Hill, Wyatt Thomason, Clay Rogers, Zander Noblett, Austin Riddle, Teague Whatley, Lucas Miller, Travis Hopper and Issac Smith.

% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 138 or at​

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