DIXIE – It was opening weekend in the Dixie League, the Association‘s oldest league with a lineage that stretches back to 2009. Currently in their 3rd season under a baseball appreciation format, there was plenty of double header action along with off the field drama to be had in this one of a kind league. The story of the weekend centered around the Hinesville Warrior, an expansion team this season in the Dixie, when the Warrior club attempted a uniform and mascot change on the eve of opening day. A veto on the move by League Commissioner Coach Crash led to a heated exchange at home plate just before the first pitch of the 2017 season.
For all the fans in attendance to see, there was a good bit dust kicked onto cleats and the first base bag tossed into the stands amid the shouting, with the Commissioner citing sponsor contracts and promotional material already having been distributed as the reason for the veto. Adding to the drama, was the scheduled game between Hinesville and the Commissioner’s own New Orleans Black Hats, Western League defending champions, for the opening game of the day. Eventually satisfied with the explanation, the Warrior’s manager accepted the reasoning and returned to the dugout, but exacted revenge on the Black Hats with an explosive performance, racking up 12 runs in the victory for the highest scoring win of Week 1. Hinesville swept their double header, beating New Orleans 12-6 and also Coach McGuire’s Westfield Bombers 12-7 to take the lead in the Eastern League.
The other inescapable story of opening weekend was Hurricane Irma as she bore down on the Sunshine State. Irma greatly affected play for the Dixie’s 3 Florida teams as well as that of the Andalusia Arrows whose Florida training facilities were right in the path of the eye. The Arrows posted the lowest score of the day with only a single run in their double header losses to San Angelo and New Orleans. The defending Champion Sanford Celeryfeds suffered double header losses in their opening weekend, while the Lakeland Raiders split their games, losing to Austin but managing to come out on top against Sanford. The Orlando Crush, further north, were able to fare much better, sweeping their opponents with a 10 run victory vs both Sanford and Westfield.
Expansion club Kokomo Kings took the early lead in the Home Run Derby, posting 6 touchdowns on opening day for a 10 run win over the Austin Bulls, but had to settle for a tie in the second game against the league’s other Texas expansion club, the San Angelo Wolverines who also put up 10 runs. In a quirk of scheduling, Hinesville will face Westfield again in Week 2 before taking on the Arrows in game 2 of their double header as they attempt to extend their undefeated record, while Kokomo and San Angelo will also meet again to see if 9 more innings can settle their Week 1 tie.