Miami, FL – As the fans trickled out of historic Flamingo Park, the manager of the Everglades Gators (8-16) touched his bill, hiding the flow of tears. After squeezing out a single run against Miami High (17-5) in the fourth inning, Coach Oddibe McDowell's offense had dried up. An untimely error by his utility man led to a Miami run, and the two teams were left tied through nine innings.
When the Gators failed to account for the lead runner in the bottom of the tenth, the winning run crossed the plate, and the Stingarees sailed through to the next wave of playoff games. As the Miami dugout poured onto the field, Coach McDowell was flooded with emotion.
Fortunately for Coach McDowell, this was not a sink-or-swim season. Everglades has a deep pool of talent, and word has leaked that next year's freshman class has a raft of future stars. A fluid ninth grader with a strong hose will take over at shortstop, and a sprinkling of incoming southpaws should shore up the pitching staff.
On balance, it was a successful year for the team. And while the 2015 Gators may be a little wet behind the ears, they'll have the right skipper to lead them.
They'll have Oddibe McDowell.