Three young baseball players from Emanuel County—Tuff Boddiford, Brody Fleming, and Karson Kettles—went with their respective travel teams to the 2020 Perfect Game World Series held in Atlanta on July 3-7. All three play with the Line Drive organization based out of Pooler.
Boddiford and Fleming, members of the 12U Line Drive team, have shared the diamond since they were 8-years-old. Together, the two of them have played on two Dixie Youth state championship teams. Line Drive makes their fourth shared travel team.
Both are rising seventh graders with promising futures at different positions. Boddiford attends ECI, where he plays baseball and football. The son of Eric and Dawn Boddiford of Twin City, he pitches, occasionally plays third or outfield, but primarily plays shortstop. He is known for his power and quickness as well as his ability to make difficult plays. He routinely makes difficult plays at shortstop look easy. Boddiford is extremely quick around the bases and a smart baserunner. He stood out in Atlanta, scoring several RBI and hitting a home run.
Fleming, on the other hand, plays first and third. He, too, sometimes plays in the outfield. As of late, however, he has found his home on the mound. He shined in Atlanta as the only 12U player to reach 75 on the radar more than a few times. (Fleming was consistent between 71 and 74 but threw strikes at 75, which is impressive for his age.) Like Boddiford, he is a power hitter and has a strong arm. He’s also sound defensively with a good glove in the field. Fleming’s strong suits are his quick hands and pitching skills.
He and Boddiford make a tough duo to handle; both boys have great foundational knowledge of the game, always knowing what to do on the next play before it even happens.
Fleming is a student at DEA. He is the oldest child of Brent and Stephanie Fleming of Swainsboro. As an Eagle, he plays football, basketball, and, of course, baseball.
The two have been an integral part of Line Drive 12U’s season thus far. Together, Boddiford and Fleming helped qualify their team for the Perfect Game World Series, a prestigious invitation-only tournament for major travel teams like their own. Invitations were divvied out based on national rankings.
At the beginning of the season, Line Drive/Wilson 12U was ranked 10th in the southeastern district and 60th in the nation. That ranking will likely be even higher now, thanks to the team’s impressive finish in the tournament two weeks ago. Out of 70+ teams, Boddiford, Fleming, and company finished 14th in the Gold Division of the World Series, which was one of three “colored” brackets (gold, silver, and bronze) due to the tournament’s large turnout.
Line Drive 12U played seven games, losing only two of those. Their only losses were both to Easton Top Notch from California, who headed into the tournament as No. 1 in the nation.
Of the teams Line Drive/Wilson whooped up on were the Kansas City Crusaders (ranked 21st across the country); the Motor City Hit Dogs from Detroit, Michigan; the Elite Prospects from Hollywood, Florida; the Dulins Dodgers from McKinney, Texas (also the home team for No. 1 MLB draft pick Blaze Jordan); and the Mississippi Yankees.
In addition to Boddiford and Fleming who hail from Emanuel County, Line Drive/Wilson 12U is comprised of 12 other players from an area stretching from Augusta to Vidalia to Richmond Hill and Brooklet to Jesup. These boys are led by head coach Chris Wilson and assistant coaches Britt Tabor, Todd Wagner, and Billy Nance.
Kettles is the only local member of Line Drive 9U Black’s 11-man roster. The rising fifth grader at DEA primarily plays shortstop, but he can also be found at second, third, and in the outfield for his travel team. This season was his first with the Line Drive organization. Throughout this year, he has made great friends, continued to improve his game and leadership skills, and has made lots of great memories, including making it to the Final Four of the tournament and bringing home a third place finish.
In route to the third place finish, Line Drive 9U played eight games, finishing the World Series 6–2. The team beat the Vipers from Prospect, Kentucky in Game 1; the East Cobb Astros from East Cobb, Atlanta in Game 2; the Cincy Flames from Cincinnati, Ohio in Game 3; and ALL~N Baseball from Decatur in Game 4. The boys suffered their first loss in Game 5 at the hands of Turn2 Baesball from Dacula but rebounded with two consecutive wins in Games 6 and 7 respectively against the Oklahoma Show from Piedmont, Oklahoma and West Florida Baseball Academy from Catonment, Florida. Line Drive 9U Black went into Game 8 in the semifinals losing to Turn2 Baseball, who eventually lost the championship game to Shock Prime from Sarasota, Florida.
During the World Series, Kettles had 7 RBI and scored 11 runs. His Perfect Game batting average stands at .375 today.
His parents are Mandy and Lincoln Kettles of Swainsboro. Excluding Kettles and another player from Glennville, most Line Drive 9U’s players call the coastal Georgia area home with team members hailing from Rincon to Pooler to Richmond Hill to Savannah to Guyton. One other player is from Beaufort, South Carolina. The team is coached by Tyson Helsel, Tommy Gibbs, and Brian Bledsoe.