When Carroll County’s 15-17 year-old all-stars pack their bags for the Dixie Pre-Majors World Series in Guntersville, Ala., on July 28, among their equipment will be a rather strange item - a plastic sheep. So, why does the team carry a plastic sheep with them, well, Kinley Meredith tells the story.
“Jake Dillon came up with the idea as a way to get into the (opposing) pitcher’s head,” said Meredith. “Whenever we score a run, Ryan Gravley, aka the Shepherd, will call out ‘Unleash the sheep’ and we’ll all go baaahhhh.”
“It drives the other team crazy. We just try to do whatever we can to help our ball club out,” added Gravley.
“They’re a pretty creative bunch,” said Head Coach Larry Snow. “I didn’t know anything about it until they did it. I was coaching third base, and I began laughing.”
Although his players know how to have fun, Snow said it hasn’t affected their play.
“They enjoy themselves, but they play good baseball, too. They’re a good group of young men,” he said.
Aaron Hooven, the team’s elder statesman, said he never doubted his team’s ability to make it to the World Series, even early in the season.
“With the talent we have on this team, I feel like we can win the whole thing. Whenever we weren’t leading, we were always in the ball game,” he said, adding that beating Halifax, which had eliminated Carroll County last year, to get to the World Series was especially satisfying.
“Whenever you’re in a championship game, it doesn’t matter who you’re playing, it’s going to be sweet. But beating Halifax felt good, real good,” added Hooven.
Three members of this year’s team made the trip to Alabama three years ago, the last time a Carroll County team made it to the World Series, to watch their older brothers play for the championship.
“I wanted to go one day, and I knew we were going (this year) as soon as we unleashed the sheep,” said Josh Underwood.
Nathan Snow said, “I was just trying to take it one day at a time and get there one day. We’re all looking forward to it. We want to go down there and a get a few more Ws.”
Bronson Bowman added that he had thought about the World Series “almost every day,” since seeing his brother play for the title.