Triple Threat sweeps N.C. tourney
Published 8:59 am Wednesday, August 10, 2016
The Triple Threat travel baseball team ended its run at the 12-and-under level with an exclamation point.
The squad, which has representation from Charlotte County, Prince Edward County and Crewe, went to North Carolina for a tournament July 30-31 and swept the competition at the Oxford Summer Blast, which was organized by NCGameOnSports.com.
Playing with eight other teams in the Amateur Athletic Union tourney, Triple Threat went 5-0, winning the title game against the VH Angels from Burlington, N.C.
“In the championship game, we scored 14 runs, had no errors,” said Triple Threat Coach Jeff Rapole, of Charlotte County. “It was a flawless game.”
The Triple Threat boys were prolific hitters on offense, producing 15 home runs across the two days.
Lending their bats to the extraordinary offensive output were Michael Dailey with four homers, Tanner Thomas with four homers, Nate Reed with three and Rhodes Cooper, Tya Johnson, Triston Long and Jake Simon with one apiece.
Long is from Crewe but represented Charlotte County in Dixie Youth Baseball.
While Hunter Rapole, of Charlotte County, did not hit any home runs for Triple Threat in North Carolina, he did his part to facilitate the offense.
“He batted leadoff, and he did a great job of getting on base and setting the table for the guys who are knocking in the home runs,” Coach Mark Simon said.
Additionally, “the whole team, overall, played great defense,” Simon said. “Even if they would have just hit mediocre, we would have still won all the games because our defense was lights out.”
During the tourney, “Nate Reed pitched eight and two-thirds innings and gave up one run; Michael Dailey pitched seven innings, gave up two runs, and that was our two main pitching performances,” Coach Simon said.
Reed had two pitching wins and a save.
This was the last weekend of Triple Threat’s eligibility as a 12U team, as it became a 13U squad as of Aug. 1. With the move up comes the adjustment to a regulation size field.
“It’s a big jump for the kids, so they wanted to squeeze in one last tournament on the small field,” Simon said. “They won’t be hitting 15 home runs a tournament now, I can tell you that.”
He does expect them to continue to succeed, however, as they are a highly ranked travel team in the AA classification.
“I’m fairly sure we’re going to be moved up to a AAA team here pretty soon,” Simon said, adding that rankings are determined based on different factors like strength of schedule and record.
The majority of Triple Threat is made up of Prince Edward residents, but Simon gave special credit to Coach Rapole’s wife, Wendy Rapole, of Charlotte County, for her behind-the-scenes work connected to the team.
“Handling the bank account, paying for the insurance, paying for the tournaments, buying the uniforms, buying the hats, scheduling practice fields for us — all that kind of stuff that people don’t even think about, she’s taking care of that,” Simon said.
Coach Rapole agreed, saying all the families involved in the team contribute to its success.
The main season for Triple Threat begins in the fall.
All of the boys on the team have aged out of Dixie Youth Baseball, “so as soon as school ball’s over, we’ll play a full spring and summer schedule for travel ball next year,” Simon said.
The coach said he has gotten phone calls from people from bigger areas like Richmond, Lynchburg and Charlottesville asking if Triple Threat is going to hold a tryout, but he has said no, intending to keep the team for young players from the more rural area.
“They represent this area of Virginia pretty well,” Rapole said.