White Hall's Relyance Bank team took home the first place trophy from this weekend's United States Specialty Sports Association's 18U state baseball tournament held at Taylor Field in Pine Bluff.
Relyance is managed by Head Coach Ben Fox and Assistant Coach Bob Bailey. Both recognized the fact that they are still an American Legion team, and when the opportunity to play in this tournament presented itself, they went with it.
According to Bailey, the six-team tournament was a solid measuring stick to see where they are heading into the American Legion state tournament later this month.
Leading up to the American Legion state tournament in Harrison on July 27, Relyance will play at least one double-header a week against either one of the two teams from Sheridan or against Woodlawn.
The dates and times for those games have not yet been determined.
The Relyance roster is made of up a number of White Hall High School juniors who are playing an age group up.
In the championship game, Relyance beat Boomer out of Shady Point, Oklahoma 7-4, and according to Bailey, that group had a majority of older guys.
"I think it was a big boost for our guys, and we have to give credit to that Boomer team out of Oklahoma," Bailey said. "They're good, and that's a group of older boys. Good thing for us is we played up and played a great game. That was a very balanced tournament, and all of the teams were balanced competitively-wise."
Relyance won four out of five games in two days. Bailey credited their deep pitching staff and the defense behind them for their success. It allowed them to get through the weekend with a fresh arm on the mound at all times.
"I think the thing that stood out the most is probably our pitching," Bailey said. "Seven or eight different guys took the mound for us. To play five games with good pitching to get through a tournament like that was good. Defensively we were strong as well."
On Sunday in bracket play, Relyance had to beat the Mena Bearcats, a team they had lost to in their pool play opener on Saturday. According to both Relyance coaches, they executed on offense, and that was the main difference from the first to the second matchup with Mena.
"The difference was hitting and executing on base," Fox said. "We didn't leave any guys stranded."
Fox assembled his roster mostly with juniors and seniors from White Hall High School, so the chemistry is there on and off of the field.
"We've been playing since the beginning of the summer," Fox said. "All these kids go to White Hall together, and they're all upcoming juniors and seniors ... they've been playing together for a while."