Brookhaven Blazers baseball burnishes reputation with USSSA World Series win

Published 5:10 pm Tuesday, July 11, 2023

One of the longest running travel baseball programs in Lincoln County put a bow on their summer slate of games last weekend with USSSA World Series gold.

The Blazers, a team long led by Brookhaven native Lee Zumbro, went 5-0 in Gulfport to claim first place in the 14U bracket. The team made up of players from all over Lincoln County went 5-0 and outscored their opponents by a combined total of 47-1 in tournament play.

Rain on Sunday cancelled the final day of action and as the lone unbeaten team remaining, the Blazers were awarded the first-place plaque.

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Back in June, the Blazers also won the 14U bracket at the State Games of Mississippi by having another 5-0 showing in that bracket.

They finished the summer with an overall record of 20-5.

“A lot of these boys have been playing together on this team since they were seven years old and we really wanted to end the summer by winning this tournament,” said Zumbro. “Last year we lost 8-7 in the finals of a World Series in Gulf Shores, and they knew they didn’t want to end the summer like that again.”

In its inception many years ago, The Brookhaven Blazers were a team that were sponsored by Stan King Chevrolet Super Store as Paxton King, the son of Stan King and now general manager of the store, was on the first team.

When Zumbro started coaching his oldest son Dawson, Price King, Stan’s grandson was on his first team.

“Stan King sponsored us that first year and we’ve been the Blazers ever since,” said Zumbro. “When my oldest Dawson, was around seven-years old we played in an All-Star tournament that had a bunch of travel teams in it. We saw that we’d be better off if we got a group that stuck together and played with each other as they got older. I’ve been very blessed to be able to do that with Dawson and now with my youngest, Paxton.”

The roster of the Blazers is dotted with players from schools throughout Lincoln County.

Paxton Leggett, Tucker Tarver and Braxton Orr are all members of the Blazers that attend Brookhaven Academy. Ripken Powell, Jiles Williams, Kelly Burgess and Haygan Floyd are all students at Enterprise. Paxton Zumbro, Carter King, Phillip Ross Spencer, Carson Cunningham and Jordan Keyes all play at Loyd Star. Carter Spring is a student at Franklin County and Trace Hood, who was named MVP of the tournament in Gulfport, attends Warren Central.

Facing a River Valley Bandits team hailing from Arkansas in the winner’s bracket, Spring helped the Blazers earn a 6-0 win by striking out 11 and giving up just two hits in five innings.

“I always enjoy going around and seeing the boys play for their school teams during the season,” said Zumbro. “Some of them are already contributing to their school teams as freshmen and that gives you a feeling of pride. There are some future college baseball players in this bunch if they’ll keep working putting in the work.”

Many travel teams do begin to slow down after 14U as high school workouts and other sports begin to cut down on the opportunities to play together. Zumbro says the team might play some 16U next summer or sign up for some other events to get players exposure, depending on how many parents are interested.

“The guys really do love playing with each other,” said Zumbro. “I’ve heard some of the older guys say that the most fun they’ve had playing baseball was when they were with the Blazers. I’ve been really lucky to have some great parents over the years and to have some really outstanding young men. Baseball in Lincoln County has a really bright future and I know some of these guys are going to be a big part of that.”