Newcomer Tennessee Elite Captures Gold in First Year Participating at the 2024 10U Futures Invitational 

CARY, N.C. - A new name has quickly risen to the top at the Futures Invitational. On Sunday, Tennessee Elite was crowned champion as it downed ZT National Prospects 6-2 in its first year competing at Futures.

Tennessee Elite started off hot at the plate, reaching the bags on the first at-bat of the game on a Jaxon Spray single to center field. An error would push Spray across the plate, marking the first run of the game for Tennessee. Later in the same inning, Ethan Wagner got a hold of a ground ball to left field, plating Elite’s second run of the game.

Elite head coach Danny Gipson deployed pitcher Knox White on the mound for Tennessee, where he forced two ground outs and a fly out in the first inning to help his squad keep the 2-0 lead over the Prospects in the first.

“Knox White did a great job mixing his speeds up,” Gipson said. “He located his fastball really well and his off-speed pitch got the job done. It kept batters off balance really well.”

Tennessee continued its scoring affair in the top of the second,doubling the lead on back-to-back singles. Ryan McCallum stepped up to the plate and delivered a ball to center field, followed by a hard-hit shot from Spray which moved the score to 4-0.

The ZT National Prospects found their way on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth when Dereck Perez knocked a ball into left field, allowing for a runner to find home to cut the deficit to three.

Elite answered with a two-run inning in the top of the fifth frame to put the game out of reach. After a single hit by Duncan Mount, a series of errors in the next at-bat allowed him to round the bases and cross the plate for Elite. Joey Schuster also added a run with his ground ball to center field, pushing the score to 6-1.

With the window closing, the Prospects knew they needed to get to work at the plate. After a walk and a single, Jacob Neff reached first on an infield error, allowing ZT to add another run to their total and cut the lead to four.

Being held scoreless in the top of the sixth, Elite sent Spray on the bump to finalize the last three outs and secure them the gold. Spray mowed through the first three batters, forcing two ground outs and a lineout to secure his team's 6-2 win over the Prospects.

Spray finished his day with a game-high three hits, adding an RBI to his day and a run scored for himself.

Coach Gipson had high praise for Spray postgame stating, “He's a dog, and the future is extremely bright for that kid. He's got a lot of just God-given natural talent and ability. We have to make sure that we support him as best as we can, make sure that we're creating a great kid on the field and off of the field as well.”

Of course,the on-field memories will always be something the players will never forget, but Gipson has a different approach and recognizes all of the work his players did to achieve success.

“I think this experience reinforces how talented these kids are, and how bright of a future they will have. How they worked together as a team, cared for each other, supported each other, and how they just showed up to compete every single day. It means a lot to me. I'm really proud of what they've accomplished this week.”

Sun Devils Capture Bronze

In the bronze medal matchup, the Texas Sun Devils erased a four-run deficit to down the Scottsdale Dirtbags, 10-6, to garner their first podium finish at the 10U Futures Invitational.

The Dirtbags raced out to an early 4-0 lead in the top of the first frame courtesy of a double and back-to-back singles from Benjamin McLyn and Lucas Padilla. The Sun Devils responded with two runs of their own via a CJ Rendon fly out, making the score 4-2 after the first frame. Texas continued its scoring affair in the bottom of the fourth inning, seeing Maverick Powers and Rendon smash back-to-back doubles to lead the rally.

The Dirtbags evened things up in the fourth at five to put the pressure on the Sun Devils, but Sun Devils’ Brody Pemberton had an answer. Pemberton stepped up to the plate and cranked a two-run inside-the-park home run to increase the lead to five for Texas.While the offense held steady, Pemberton demonstrated his versatility, taking charge on the mound and tossing three frames in relief. He collected four strikeouts while only allowing two hits to secure the win and clinch the bronze medal for his squad.