DUBLIN — With their repeat Dixie Pre-Majors State Tournament championship under their collective belts, the Knights of West Bladen are now focusing on a second trip to the World Series, this time in Chipley, Fla.
“Everyone is pretty excited and looking forward to the trip,” West Bladen coach Kim Cain said.
The Knights — especially coaches and parents — have very little time to get everything in order, most importantly a fundraising effort and transportation. On top of that, Cain will be unable to assist in the fundraising efforts because he will be an assistant coach for the East football squad in the annual East-West All-Star game at Jamieson Stadium in Greensboro on Wednesday, July 23.
“We’re planning on leaving for Florida the next day (Thursday),” Cain said. “And our first game is Saturday.”
There are 12 teams in the field vying for the 2014 title. In addition to West Bladen as the North Carolina champion, teams from South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas and the host Chipley, Fla., team. A team from Shelby, Tenn., won the 2013 crown when West Bladen lost it’s first two games.
“The fact that we’ve gone before should help us,” Cain said. “We at least have a better idea what to expect.”
Only four players from the 2013 Knights team, however, are on the roster for this trip. Those players are Jeremy Hunt, Michael Pastore, Colby McLean and Mason Hester.
West Bladen will open the double-elimination World Series at noon on Saturday against South Carolina at Chipley High School. A win there would send the Knights into the second round on Sunday at 4 p.m. against the winner of the Georgia versus Mississippi game; a loss sends the Knights into the consolatoin bracket against the loser of that game at 10 a.m. Sunday.
Prior to the games getting started, there will be an opening ceremony on Friday afternoon and a banquet that evening for the teams.
Steve Pastore, who coached the West Bladen No. 2 team this summer, will serve for the second time in two years as the fundraising coordinator for the Knights’ trip to the World Series.
And once again, he’s got a steep hill to climb.
“Last year we raised right around $12,000 or $13,000 — and we spent every bit of it going to Alabama,” he said.
This year the trip to Florida is expected to cost closer to about $15,000.
To help defray the cost, a pair of car washes are planned for Saturday from 9 a.m. until at least 2 p.m. — one at Hester Tire in Bladenboro and the other at Advance Auto parts in Elizabethtown.
At the same time, raffle tickets will be sold and donations taken at Tractor Supply in Elizabethtown from 9 a.m. until at least 1 p.m. Raffle tickets will be $2 each for a chance to win $200, and tickets can be purchased from any player or coach. That drawing will be held on Wednesday.
Pastore said there will be representatives from the team making the rounds to businesses throughout the area looking for donations.
“They did that last year and it went really well,” he said. “And whatever we don’t raise through fundraising, the parents will make up the difference.”
In addition, monetary donations can be made to the team — those interested should call Cain’s wife Jenel at 910-876-0541. Or checks (made out to Dixie Baseball) can be sent to P.O. Box 274, Bladenboro N.C. 28320. All donations should be received by Wednesday.