EASLEY, SC — After a long and eventful journey, Florida's District 12 team is taking time to relax.
As they played corn hole next to the Patch marketing tent, the boys laughed about the trip to Easley, how they've passed the time and how everyone they've met has reminded them that they beat the Greenville, SC, team to get to the Big League World Series and represent the Southeast.
The team, which includes players from Clearwater, Dunedin, Largo and Palm Harbor, flew into Atlanta on Monday at 10:30 a.m., left the airport around 11 a.m., but didn't arrive in Easley until 5:30 that afternoon.
No, they didn't get lost on their travels up I-85 —
"If anything, they are patient," said Michelle Fitzgerald of Easley, the team's host mom.
Jesse Dingman, 18, of Palm Harbor, described the last 48 hours for his crew.
"It's been interesting, but we are glad we are here," Dingman said. "The first bus had no air-conditioning, the second smelled like gas and now three to four of our team have pink eye."
But after all of that, "we are just ready to play," Dingman said.
Field of dreams in Easley?
It's Carter Cashman's first trip to Easley. The 18-year-old from Clearwater said he really liked the field.
"It's really cool," Cashman said. "It's a nice field and I like that it's kind of in the woods."
Cashman said the team came over to watch Central's game, as they will compete against them at 4 p.m. Thursday.
In addition to playing corn hole, the team has been passing the time playing cards and, according to an unnamed source, a small water fight.
When asked if they would see much of the Upstate, Ben Emery said they would see some, but that most of their time was scheduled around being at the field.
Emery, along with his teammates,
Accompanied by their team mom, Fitzgerald said they gave out about 22 autographed baseballs and spent a lot of time talking to the kids.
"Ben Emery is a cancer survivor and he was able to share that story with the kids at Shriners," Fitzgerald said. "All of them are just super kids."
Fitzgerald, who has been a host parent for eight years, said Florida 12 was the first team she ever hosted as a parent, so she was excited to welcome Florida back "home" for the week.
Fitzgerald said that she really got a chance to see the guys under pressure when the team's bus broke down Monday. She said they rented a van and had family member come and transport them to the Mall of Georgia, just to get out of the heat.
Fitzgerald, who has painted her toenails maroon and topped with a gold S and E on each big toe, said she is crazy about this team of all-stars.
"They have me hook, line and sinker," Fitzgerald said, who said she befriended Emery on Facebook, just after the team made it in to the tourney.
"I make goodie bags for them and fill them up."
Fitzgerald spoils them with all they will need on an off the field. She makes sure they have water, sunflowers seeds, bubble gum and water baseballs.
Oh, and then there's the squirt guns. Maybe that's how that water fight started?