Courier Sports Writer
One of favorite things about covering the Sandlot baseball report this season was getting a chance to watch the great players and coaches in action. However, I do feel bad about not getting a chance to view the incrediable play of the youth softball players this season. Most of Cannon County teams are done until the fall season begins here pretty soon except the 9U softball team, the Ponytail Express.
Last weekend, a collection of players from each of the local 9U teams came together, including most the Ponytail Express team for the TYBA state tournament in Murfreesboro. By the end of the weekend event, the PE team finished with a well-deserved third place showing against the best teams in the state in the age division.
"It was a great experience and we had a good time," Ponytail Express head coach B. J. Bobo said. "It helped us understand where we need to improve in the future. It was very eye-opening, but we held our own as 12 girls from Cannon County put on a good show for them."
Bobo's daughter and a member of the team, Jada added, "It was good and everybody did what they were supposed to do."
The tournament caps off a remarkable year for the Ponytail Express as they have an overall record during the past two seasons of 33-3, including championships in both the Lascassas and Cannon County youth softball leagues. The impressive record, included a 33-game winning streak, which was snapped during the second day of the TYBA tournament last week. However, it is still a job well done for these players and coaches.
"It was quite an accomplishment for the girls and the parents," B.J. Bobo said. "The parents really enjoyed it, because they are a fun team to watch. They hit and hustle."
Jada added, "It was awesome and crazy. Everybody was screaming and the parents were crying."
The Ponytail Express version of the team who won the Cannon County Dixie Youth 9U softball title this season, included Alexis Davenport, Ava Roberts, Raena Smith, Audrey Baird, Kendall Hedrick, Elizabeth Rowell, Jada Bobo, MyKala Barrett, Jenna Bush and Kendra Murphy.
While the third place finishing team at the TYBA tournament last week, included head coach B.J. Bobo, assistants Brittany Reinitz, Matt Bush and Chad Parker and the players were Kathryn Trail, Kendall Hedrick, Raena Smith, Jenna Bush, Audrey Baird, Aubrianna McKee, MyKala Barrett, Allie Melton, Madi Leath, Jada Bobo, Annabelle Reinitz and Willow Carden.
The team also received support from Terry Baird at Exposure Advertising and HGI during the state tournament, while the team was sponsored by DTC Communications during the regular season.
Of course, the coaches who give their free time when they are not working their normal job knows in order to have a successful team at this level, they have to have a group of players willing to work together on the field and supportive parents willing to give up their time to drive the players to the games and practice and cheer the team on during the competition.
Bobo believes it is one of the many reasons why the Ponytail Express has enjoyed so much success in a short amount of time.
"These were awesome kids and parents, because you never heard any bickering or complaining about the players," Bobo said. "Everybody just did their thing and they kept right on. It makes it fun and we all get along."
An example of this togetherness came on two different occasions last week during the tournament. Last Saturday, while the team had a four-hour break before their next game. The players, coaches and parents played corn hole and whiffle ball, while also telling stories and jokes to each other.
The following day, the team was not able to attend church, because they had an upcoming game. So, they decided to have a church service at the ballpark as they invited several other teams to join them in worship. Bobo said about 75 people took part in the worship service.
When I cover youth sports both in Murfreesboro and now in Cannon County, one of my favorite questions I like to ask coaches is How much fun do you have coaching these players? Honestly, sometimes the coaches gets quite emotional in their answers to the question. When, I asked Bobo the same question the same thing happened to him, while giving his answer.
"All of our coaches have great fun and we get to influence these kids in a positive way. Once they step on that field, it is like I got 12 of my own daughters out there. We have become friends with the players, parents and other members of the family. It is encouraging to us as coaches to hear we are doing a good job from the parents."
Too many times it seems the only time youth sports gets media coverage is when something bad happens, but there are players and coaches across the nation, including here in Cannon County who are doing things the right way like the Ponytail Express,