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Franklin County Proud!

It was an afternoon of Franklin County Proud of its All-Star
teams, from its littlest Darlings to the Team Florida boys to the older
traveling ball Sandlot squad.

In a spirited parade Sunday afternoon through the streets of
Apalachicola, led by Police Chief Bobby Varnes, with the ballplayers riding
high atop the Apalachicola fire trucks or in golf carts, these roughly three
dozen young athletes, from Carrabelle, Eastpoint and Apalachicola, were treated
to a full-throated tribute.

All topped off with refreshments at Riverfront Park,
courtesy of 12 Mile Seafood, The Mellow Mullet, City Commissioner Adriane
Elliott, the Ward family and the many generous coaches, supporters, fans and family
members who made it an incredible summer.

And, if that wasn’t enough to bring alive the magical season,
showing up, purely by coincidence, was a giant bullmastiff that bore an uncanny
resemblance to Hercules (better known as The Beast), who is the canine
star of the legendary baseball movie “The Sandlot.”

April Kimmel and Jeremy Vaughn had brought along their
178-pound pet “Big Ben” on a weekend visit from Panama City, and just happened
to be strolling in Riverfront Park when they saw the parade.

Naturally, the boys on the Sandlot Squad, who a few weeks earlier had taken  a memorable trip to Cooperstown, New York, all wanted to pose with Big Ben, and all the other kids
wanted to pet him.

“He’s a gentle giant, our showstopper. It’s like walking a cartoon
character,” said Kimmel, who has raised him from 13 pounds at but a few weeks
old to almost 15 times that size four years later. “He enjoys the beach, loves boating.”

The Sandlot boys, a traveling team coached by Lloyd Alford,
consisting of #4 Ja’Corey Williams, #14 Terrell Williams, #6 Rylan Wood, #99
Eli Harris, #27 Nolan Alford, #1 Sadiq Jones, #7 Kayden Drake. #12 Jeremiah
Allen, #10  Karcen Poloronis, #23 Dre’Kylan North, and #9 Colton “Cash”
Brewer had just come back from a trip of a lifetime to Cooperstown, New York,
home of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

As it turned out, the boys had an impressive finish, 18 out
of 79 of the nation’s best teams. But as Alford said, the trip was more than
even that, especially because he had the wise counsel of coach Jimmy Granger by
his side.

“These are my boys,” Alford wrote on Facebook. “They are
terrific ball players but more than that, they are examples of leadership and
are shaping into some fine young men. I couldn’t be more proud of every single one
of them. They conducted themselves the way I expected them to. 

“Thank you to our community. This was the trip of a lifetime
for these boys,” he said, noting the year-long planning and fundraising that
went into it.

“If you gave a little, or if you gave a lot, we thank you.
Your generosity and selflessness allowed us to experience bucket list type
stuff: Central Park, Cooperstown Hall of Fame, Times Square, Yankees game and eight
games against some of the best 12-and-13-year-old teams in the country,” Alford

Among the proud parents were Tyler and Lindsey Poloronis,
who managed to somehow be at both the AA tournament in Laurel, Mississippi and
then at Cooperstown.

Tyler is the head coach of the AA All-Stars, the 7-and-8-year-old
boys that represented Team Florida at the World Series. And so, after driving
to Mississippi and finishing that tourney, they motored to Orlando, and flew to Cooperstown to surprise their oldest son for his first game.

The AA team of first basemen Kenyon Allen and Garrett Harper,
second baseman Roman Lattimore, shortstop Gannon Poloronis, third baseman Cooper
Taranto, pitcher Ian Klink, catcher Will Rummel, outfielders Caston Hires, TJ Putnal,
Kade Dean, Andrew Harris and Tylin Cruz, had earned their way into the World

After dominating district play, the boys traveled to the
state tournament in Marianna in early July, where they downed Paxton and Chipley
in pool play, but lost to Avon Park. In the double elimination portion, the AA
boys beat West Volusia 6-3 and 6-2, but lost to Avon Park 9-3, setting up a
second game, in which the Franklin County boys eventually fell 5-4 in eight

“We played probably the best game we could play but came up
a hair short,” said the coach.

Invited to the World Series to compete as a Team Florida,
the AA boys had a tough draw and ended up finishing 2-2. And who did they fall
to, and who ended up winning the Worlds? Avon Park, the same powerhouse team
that edged them at state.

And of course there were the Darlings, that crew of 7-and-8-year-old
cuties who represented Florida at the World Series in Prince George, Virginia,
splitting against the two Carolina teams before falling to Alabama.

“The Carrabelle
Dixie Youth League Franklin County All Stars couldn’t be more proud
of our players, parents, fans, and coaches,” said coach Leigh Sheridan.
“We made a wonderful run this season. “

Teammates on the squad
include Trista Wheeler, Shelby Melvin, Kelsey King, Leeah Ward, Amelie Cannon,
Preslee Dasher, Kimber Severns, Lexi Griggs, Swayzee Lane, Hallie Zingarelli,
Paisleigh Taylor, and Molly Thompson.

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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