The Reidsville Luckies, an elite 8 and under coach-pitch baseball team, was recently ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation according to the United States Specialty Sports Association.
The Luckies travel all up and down the east coast competing in tournaments against some of the best youth teams in the country in the USSSA and AAU.
The team is currently 16-2 overall, which includes AAU competition, and 10-0 in the USSSA.
“I don’t think that they are capable, because of their age, to truthfully understand what they’ve done. Well over 700 teams are ranked nationally, and to be one of those teams, I don’t think our boys are old enough to fully grasp it,” Luckies head coach Hal Young said.
Young said they knew they were good because they beat the fourth and fifth ranked teams earlier in the season which included wins over the previous No. 1 team en route to their assent to the top spot in the nation.
The formation of the team was the brain-child of Scott Strader and Ritchie Pegram, owners of the Reidsville Luckies Batting Academy, a company that provides private and group lessons. The facility has batting cages, pitching machines, a weight room and an indoor infield area.
“Scott was gracious enough to let us use his name, use his facilities and become affiliated with them. That has a lot to do with our success, being able to play year-round and getting in there and fielding on the turf, getting into the batting cages, that’s a huge part of our success because baseball is year round for us,” the coach said.
Travel ball has become an American phenomenon over the course of the last decade, and it gives young kids and teens the opportunity to not only play top quality baseball, but also a chance to see different parts of the country and get a feel for what playing at an elite level is all about.
“The boys compete against teams in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia - all up and down the east coast, playing travel ball. They are ranked No. 1 out of 785 teams that compete all across the nation including Texas and California. It’s a pretty great accomplishment from a small town team to be nationally ranked like that in just our second year. We are really proud of the boys,” said Strader.
When Strader and Pegram launched the Reidsville Luckies Batting Academy, they wanted to connect with the community’s rich baseball history.
Many may not know, but at one time, Reidsville had a professional baseball team. The Reidsville Luckies were a minor league team that played at various points from 1935 to 1955.
So you might say the Luckies 8U team had to step into some pretty big shoes, but based on their success, it turned out to be a perfect fit. Now, with their No. 1 national ranking, they have added another chapter of baseball history to the city of Reidsville.
“I wanted to showcase the talent that we have here in Rockingham County and I wanted to show how competitive we could be. The kids, we want them to play at the next level if they want to go on to college or try to become a pro. If they want to do that, we want to help them reach their goals. That’s part of what the Reidsville Luckies Batting Academy is all about,” said Strader.
Young knows for a fact that there are plenty of Major League Baseball dreams alive and well in his dugout.
“It provides a confidence level for them too. At any time, if you are the No. 1 ranked team in the country, that provides them with a lot of confidence. Every one of them already has their song picked out for when they go up to bat for the New York Yankees or whatever team they want to play for. They all very much expect to play in the majors one day, and at this point, with them being 8 years old, I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Young.
Both the coach and Strader said support from the public has been overwhelming and it’s a feel good story that everyone wants to be a part of in some way or another.
“The community has been great. The support from the facility is phenomenal. Whatever we need, Scott will break his neck to get it for us and make it easy for us. It’s really cool to wear my Luckies hat around town and have people that I don’t even know come up and say to me ‘hey, did you hear about their 8U team,’ and I say yeah, I’m their coach. So it’s really turned into a big deal and its super cool for the boys,” said Young.