The Smyrna-based Shoetiques team won the 10U tournament this past weekend at the TN BPA Summer Classic at Barfield Crescent Park.
So far, the team has placed well in several of the tournaments it has competed in around the mid state. They are doing with a heavy heart since one of its players is fighting brain cancer.
According to the TN BPA website, Shoetiques player Branden Schwartz, a student at Woodland Elementary, was diagnosed in November 2011 with Medulloblastoma, a type of childhood brain cancer.
According to the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital website, “They are tumors that arise in the posterior fossa region of the brain. The exact cell of origin is not known. These tumors are also referred to as primitive neuroectodermal tumor (PNET). Tumors that have the same characteristics can also arise in other parts of the brain. This tumor type has a tendency to spread to other areas of the brain and spinal cord.”
Schwartz had played travel ball for several years, but this is his first season with the Shoetiques.
“He has never played a game with us, but we consider him a teammate,” Shoetiques head coach Ray Hawkins said before one of the team's game last Saturday. “We pray for him, and other teams pray for him. He is part of the family.”
Schwartz shares a special bond with his best friend and fellow teammate, Jake Raines.
“They came out for a try out last summer, and I picked both of them,” Hawkins said.
Members of the Raines family, along with other parents decided to hold a fundraiser for the Schwartz family. They took donations in his honor during the entire tournament. According to Robin Raines, who was in charge of the fundraiser, they raised over $800 dollars, and the BPA will be making an additional donation to the family.
Hawkins said before each game, the team keeps Schwartz in their thoughts.
“That is a motivation factor for us every week,” Hawkins said. “We have a devotational every week, and he is always bought up.”
As for the action on the field, the weather was hot outside, and so were the bats.
The team scored at least 10 runs in all four of its wins, including a 13-8 victory over the Sharks in the championship game last Sunday. Of course, this is nothing new for a team in which some of the players have been playing together for several seasons.
“The team has been together for a long time, and we have a good group of kids and parents,” Hawkins said.
In its Saturday afternoon game, Shoetiques faced the Fayetteville Xtreme.
Starting pitcher Caleb Hawkins mastered the mound throwing six strikeouts in his two innings pitched.
“Starting the inning inning, lefty Kaden White came in to pitch on a couple of base hits and a walk the bases were loaded,” Hawkins said about the team getting into a jam.
Then a Xtreme batter slapped a line drive straight back at White who caught it and threw out the runner at third for a double play.
The third out came a short time later with a ground ball to second baseman Jacob Crossland, who threw it to first base for the final out of the inning.
In two weeks, the Shoetiques will be back at Barfield playing in the TN BPA State Tournament. After that, they head to Chattanooga for the BPA World Series. The team hopes to continue its success, while thinking about a fellow teammate.
“It is a vacation for a lot of these families to watch their kids play,” Hawkins said. “For the kids, they will take part in skills competitions and trade pins with the other teams.”