Special to the LPJ: An all-star season through the eyes of a proud grandfather

Submitted by Leo Hyde, the proud grandfather of #8 Mathew Hyde, and “Pops” to all of the 9U players.

The 2023 Dixie 9U All-Star’s had a spectacular season this summer. They competed in tournaments from Monroe to Bossier City, taking second place in the District Tournament held in Ruston. That standing allowed them to compete in the State Tournament in Bossier City where they made a five-game sweep.

Being State Champions allowed them to go to the Dixie Youth World Series in Center, Texas, held July 19th through July 23rd. There are at least four DYB World Series played across the south depending on the age of the players.

The Center, Texas, World Series was for ages 6, 7, 9, and 11. In the single elimination bracket they defeated Prattville, Ala., 5-4. The victory over Prattville advanced the team to the semi-finals. According to “The Light and Champion”, the Shelby County news outlet, there were 50 teams and over 800 players and coaches including two teams from Ruston participating in this Series.

Here is an extremely proud grandfather’s perspective of how well the team did representing themselves, Ruston, Lincoln Parish, and the State of Louisiana as posted on my Facebook page:

“I have heard it said, “all good things must come to an end”.

I will tell you, that is not so.

On Sunday, July 23, 2023, Ruston’s 9U All-Stars were defeated in the DYB World Series in Center, Texas, by Ellisville, Miss. On July 22 in my Facebook post I said Ellisville was an excellent team, and it would not be a walk in the park.

Our 2023 season ended, but not before 12 boys from Ruston, La., made it to the semifinals of the DYB World Series along with the wonderful men who coached them.

Ruston should be extremely proud of their accomplishments and by the manner they represented Ruston, Lincoln Parish, and the State of Louisiana. These guys played with teams from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

Here is where this does not end, but only begins. This could be a once in a lifetime event for these players. What this provided was not just playing ball but an opportunity at a very young age to travel to an event as a team where they were recognized and rewarded for their hard work. This team had coaches who believed in them and believed in God, always prayed with them prior to their games. Coaches who left no doubts who was in charge of the coach’s life.

The first night in Center, Texas, all teams dined together and played games prior to the opening ceremonies. I was told by my grandson Mathew the games were fun. Following dinner and their games, they attended an opening ceremony where everyone’s name and number was called. Over 800 players were recognized in front of family and friends from five states. All participants earned a medallion and a ring and those making it to the semi-finals received an engraved bat.

But it’s not all about bats, rings, and medallions. Character was taught, confidence was gained, and friendships began. They learned they were cared about; family and friends came to see them play and cheer them on. Visitors from other teams complimented them. They learned to BELIEVE IN THEMSELVES. They witnessed grown men’s commitment to God by prayers for protection, sportsmanship, or other needs of the team members. They experienced the thrill of victory and they learned the agony of defeat.

This wasn’t the end. It is the beginning of many good things to come their way in life if they will take what they learned about character, be confident but not arrogant, establish great relationships with everyone, and BELIEVE IN THEMSELVES. They are now ready to go into their next season if they choose to continue to play baseball or into other activities they pursue. Lessons have been learned and many memories have been made.”

Upon returning home, it was learned that teammate Jessie Ford received the 2023 9U Regional World Series “Umpires Choice Award Most Recognizable Player.”


Members of the team are: Chase Butler, Jessie Ford, Mathew Hyde, Brody Jemerson, Apollo Odom, Cooper Powell, Sam Pullin, Riley Rushing, Chris Shelton, Raiden Underwood, Kingston Venzant, and Ezekiel Wilson.

Coaches were Head Coach Chris Shelton, Assistant Coaches Riley Rushing and Mat Pullin.