heat

The Hobgood Heat 6-and-under team celebrate their championship at the Rick Honeycutt World Series in Ringgold. On the team are Evan Banks, Bryce Donahue, Bryce Rich, Easten Mahaffey, Owen McKinley, Hudson Lear, Jaxson Jiga, DJ Reinhard, Cooper Thompson, bat boy Declan Reinhard, Kyler Mondich and Cal Wiley. Coaches are Billy Banks, Tony Reinhard, Matt Lear, Brandon Rich and Marc Mondich.

The 6-and-under Hobgood Heat capped an unlikely season last week with a championship in dominant fashion at the Rick Honeycutt World Series in Ringgold.

The Heat may have not looked like a championship team at the beginning of the season, but by the time the summer wrapped up, they were completing an undefeated tournament run.

“We thought we had a shot, but not to start out the season,” coach Matt Lear said. “Our first tournament, we just got absolutely clobbered. It wasn’t looking too hot, but we figured out what we needed to get better at. We worked hard at it. The kids absorbed the information so well, after our first tournament, we only lost one game.”

Not only was Hobgood sweeping through the tournament, but it did so by run-ruling every opponent. It was more than just offense in the coach-pitch tournament, though, as the Heat shut out their first two opponents thanks to defensive training that started in the early parts of the season.

“The way we practice and focus is advanced,” Lear said. “We have coaches who have played at high levels. We’re trying to teach them more advanced stuff than most kids this age are winning. We turned a couple 6-4-3 double plays. The defense was just insane.”

As the Heat continued to rack up big wins, Lear said they gained some notoriety around the tournament. He said other teams and their parents came out to watch them play, and the growing crowds only gave his team more confidence.

“They felt like little celebrities in that town, because everyone was coming out to watch and see what they were about,” Lear said. “It was a great atmosphere to play in, and you could tell the kids just loved it.”

Lear said he is hoping the way this season ended will carry over to the fall and beyond. The team is set to stay together for the foreseeable future, and the coaching staff is looking forward to trying to push the skills of their young players even further.

“All the parents said they were on board, so we should be able to keep it going next year and continue to develop as a team with more hands-on time with them,” Lear said.

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