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Posted on: December 22, 2021

History in the Making: Local Travel Baseball Team on the Rise

good vibes december 2021

Clayton's 5 Star Carolina Railroaders travel baseball team (part of the 5 Star Carolina Baseball Organization) began back in 2017 as a part of the Clayton Railroaders organization with multiple age groups as an effort to strengthen Clayton's Little League and provide young boys with the opportunity to play baseball at a higher, more competitive level. 

The current team of 10u players is sponsored by local businesses, whose generosity allows them to travel and represent Clayton on regional, state, and national levels. The potential for partnership with the community grows as the Railroaders gain momentum. 

During the team's establishment, the team's coach Dave Danko wanted to express his Clayton pride. As homage to this community, the team's name reflects Clayton's past. In the 1800s Clayton was a depot along the North Carolina Railroad known as Stallings' Station.

Just as Clayton began as a small railroad station and grew into a thriving community, the Railroaders started small and grew into a Little League All Star winning team, as well as a highly competitive Travel Baseball Team. Clayton history in the making.  

good vibes december 2021

Picture from the 2021 Top Gun World Series. 

Travel Baseball consists of three divisions. The Railroaders started their Spring 2018 season as a D3 team, and by Fall 2020, the Railroaders received a D1 rating. They were recognized in the top 20 percent of all teams in their age group. 

The Railroaders won the Winter 2021 and Summer 2020 Top Gun World Series and won the Triple Crown Border Wars in spring 2021. In addition, in the fall of 2021 they won the Perfect Game Super Regional NIT, awarding them a spot on the national stage in July 2022, in Florida. They also obtained national recognition when Travel Ball Rankings placed them among the top teams in America in Spring 2021 as well as being consistently ranked as one of the top teams in the state. 

This season their travels will take them to Charlotte, Atlanta, and Florida, along with local tournaments to play against other top-ranked teams from across the nation.

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Picture from the 2021 Top Gun World Series.

Danko reflects on the team’s first season and how much they have advanced since 2018. 

"It was our first season, and most of the boys were only six years old. We faced some defeat, but we kept playing. The kids continued to have fun," said Danko.

For the Railroaders, this experience is not about winning. It is about being a team and achieving a goal together. 

"The kids all hang out with each other, and when they're not together, they're Facetiming. It's such a tight-knit group. Our team is blessed with good parents, good support, and good kids," said Danko.

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