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Charlotte 14U boys fall in challenging World Series

The Charlotte County 14U All-Star baseball team faced a formidable challenge over the weekend at the 2018 Dixie Boys 14U World Series in Bossier City, Louisiana, fighting hard but falling in two games to end its summer.

Charlotte, which features six players from Prince Edward County, was representing Virginia in the event after going 5-0 in the state tournament in July.

“The competition at this level is really tough,” Charlotte Manager Jeff Rapole said of the World Series. “We faced Tennessee and lost 10-0 in the first game, made a lot of unusual errors … Second game, it was a really tight ballgame with the host team, Bossier City, and it just didn’t end in our way.”

Bossier City won 3-1 to eliminate Virginia from the double-elimination tourney.

Pitching against Bossier City were Jake Simon and Nate Reed. Rapole said they performed well.

“The pitchers pitched great in the first game even, against Tennessee,” Rapole added, referring to Tya Johnson and Michael Dailey. “It wasn’t pitching errors in the first game either. It was just fielding errors. We had a bad night. I think the 18 hours of driving and fatigue was wearing on (the team).”

Like the Louisiana- based World Series experience of the Prince Edward-Farmville Youth Association (PEFYA) Debs All-Star softball team, the heat was a noticeable factor for the Charlotte 14U boys squad. PEFYA Debs Manager David Schmidt noted that it was a different heat than what his players were used to.

“The heat draws the energy out of you when you get down there,” Rapole said, noting that on the first day of the 14U tourney, he thought he saw a report of the temperature that read “105.”

Despite the 0-2 finish at the World Series, the Charlotte squad has set a high bar and a winning tone for the future.

“It was a great year for the Virginia team,” Rapole said. “The kids did really well. I was very proud of them and the people and the coaches. Everybody has been helping — the community — and I think next year is going to bring big things. The kids are going to be ready to play. They’re eager. The opportunity of going to the World Series is huge. It’s a dream of a kid to go play in the World Series …”

Rapole had the unique experience of getting to coach two teams to their respective World Series tournaments this summer.

He also led the Charlotte 15U All- Stars, another squad that featured a blend of talent from Charlotte and Prince Edward. He helped that team finish third at its World Series event and earn the tourney’s sportsmanship award.

Rapole said leading both Charlotte’s 14U and 15U teams to the highest Dixie Boys level has “been an awesome experience for me as well. As a player, I never made it to no World Series, but as a parent, a coach, it’s an awesome experience. I look at all these kids just like they’re my own, and you’re just out there with the kids and enjoying their energy, because they’re excited to be there.”