The coronavirus pandemic has hardly spared any aspect of life in America, sports notwithstanding.
Stadiums are empty, players are being asked to develop new daily habits on how to practice and no sports leaders can say definitively how their season will end.
It's been a strange year for sports – to say the least.
But for the moment, at least, Palestine's 10U and 14U players attempted to bring some of that normalcy back to the community.
With almost all of the Little Leagues shut down this summer due to virus concerns it seemed unlikely there would be a state tournament of any kind.
Last weekend, Palestine's 14U team finished second in their Little League state tournament after a summer of uncertainty surrounding their season.
Despite their deep tournament runs, they've faced all types of adversity leading up to that point.
With no Athletic Complex and a health pandemic spreading, there was certainly no guarantee of youth baseball this year.
Palestine Youth Sports, geared by Bryan Jones, Danielle Medders, Joe Garza, and Reynaldo Ordonez, saw the need for a youth baseball outlet for kids.
It inspired the organization to build an 8U team, 9U team, two 10U teams, and a 14U team. With the help of Palestine and Westwood ISD, along with CJ Athletics, Anderson County little leaguers were able to use their softball fields to practice.
Shortly after things began rolling, PYS shut all practices down after Gov. Greg Abbott announced the disallowing of groups of 10 or more.
A month later, when practices resumed, their teams were forced to travel to Athens to find competition, but soon found themselves back at square one after Athens shut its leagues down in June after just two weeks due to COVID-19 measures.
Instead of panicking, the teams came together and found a way to prepare themselves for their regional and state tournaments.
Palestine's 14U team began their state tourney slate with a 6-4 win over Paris America.
Game two was another tight contest as they squeezed out a 5-4 win over EMC. Game three they fell to Longview before bouncing back with a 7-6 win over Hallsville to advance them to the title game.
Though they lost 9-5 against Longview in the championship game, parents and spectators could temporarily forget the challenges COVID-19 has posed, and the obstacles that were overcome to get the Little League season going during the pandemic.
Palestine’s 14U roster was the following: #1 Braedab Harris, #2 Joey Garza, #3 Layton Lamb, #8 Cason Clark, #11 Cooper Harris, #15 Hudson Slate, #27 Adan Rivas, #29 Brayden Barron, #44 Carter Barnett, #48 Hayden Poe, #88 Brayden Chambless, Manager: Brandon Slate, Coach Zach Clark and Coach Mike Holland.
As Palestine's 14U team was wrapping up their state tournament run, the 10U Wildcats spent three days staking their claim for a state title game appearance in Longview next Friday.
Their first game of the regional tournament game against Hallsville in which they lost 5-0. They quickly bounced back into shape against Paris with a 9-1 routing. In-game three, they repaid Hallsville, 3-2, which earned them a spot in the title game against Paris.
Unfortunately, they couldn't mirror the success they enjoyed against Paris in their first game as they lost 15-5 putting them as runners up – still qualifying them for the state tournament Friday in Longview.
Palestine’s 10U roster is the following: Colt Medders, Chan Vega, Moy Ordonez, Eric Gonzales, Tucker Bassett, Quinn Marshall, Brayden Olson, John Velazquez, Sally Estrada, Alton Bailey, Tank Andrews and David Meyers. Coaches are Reynaldo Ordonez, Coach Josh and Coach Jake.
The 10U Wildcats will play Hudson America to kick off their state tournament run in Longview, Friday at 6 p.m.