July 10, 2012 12:14:55 PM
Perfection is a matter of opinion.
For some, an afternoon walking behind a golf ball is a chance to escape and to forget everything that has happened in the past week.
For others, there's no better way to pass the time than to sit in the stands and watch the crack of the pads on an October afternoon.
For me, a baseball diamond is an oasis, especially when there are teams like the Louisville and Ackerman 12-year-old Dizzy Dean All-Stars on it. If you didn't know it Monday, you might not have believed the All-Stars were in their fifth consecutive day of action because the crisp play of both teams made it easy to enjoy the action.
Ackerman used a solid one-two pitching punch to beat Louisville 4-0 to claim the South State title. The victory, which capped a 5-0 run through the winners' bracket, earned the team a spot in the Dizzy Dean World Series, which will be later this month in Southaven.
Ackerman beat Louisville twice en route to the title. It outscored the opposition 42-13 and capped the championship with back-to-back shutouts. In a double-elimination tournament setting that requires teams to have deep pitching staffs, Ackerman used two pitchers for three innings Monday just in case it lost and had to play again in an if-game to decide the champion. Dizzy Dean rules state a pitcher who throws more than three innings in a game must wait 48 hours to pitch again.
But Ackerman's victory was more than about pitching. Both teams made nearly all of the defensive plays look routine. Hitters also went to the plate swinging against pitchers who painted the black and did their best to keep them off balance with curveballs or offspeed pitches.
It was a joy to watch. On an evening in which lightning delayed the action for nearly an hour, it was perfection.
The action capped a stretch that saw Columbus come together to play host to three tournaments. The Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority should take pride in the work done by its members and the support staff at Propst Park for maintaining the fields and being a gracious host to the 7- and 12-year-old Dizzy Dean All-Star teams and the Mississippi Amateur Softball Association 8-and-under teams that played Friday and Saturday at the Redbird Complex.
Credit also goes out to Huddle House, Walmart, Hardee's, Pepsi, Fairfield Inn and Suites, and Southern Family Market for their support this weekend. It's difficult to imagine that the events would have run as smoothly if as many local business would have participated.
Let's do it again. With the turf on the new soccer complex setting, Columbus soon will have another facility to showcase to the rest of the state. When it's finished, it will provide a welcoming first look at a downtown Columbus that has plenty to offer. Is it perfect? No, but we can all do our part to make it better and to help create an oasis that we all can take pride in.
Whether it's baseball on a hot evening in July or soccer on a cool November night or a warming spring morning, there will be plenty of chances for Columbus to come together to show its support for events. For me, sports always has held a special place. Maybe watching kids play evokes memories from my childhood and conjures up a simpler time when we didn't have to worry about bills, jobs, retirement, new cars, or all of the trappings that go along with being an adult.
On Monday, though, all of that disappeared thanks to two teams of All-Stars. I wondered how they would fare without all of the adults wrapped around the backstop. Would they know how to adjust after a swing or a miss, or would a pitcher understand what he needed to do to correct his pitching mechanics after throwing a ball?
Turns out, they didn't need much help and made play after play after play, and offered a glimpse of what sports can do when it is played at a very high level. On a crisp, clear evening, I wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else.
Adam Minichino is sports editor of The Dispatch. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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