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Softball teams to honor Hill at state tournaments

LAGRANGE – When the Troup County softball all-star teams take the field this week for the state tournament, they’ll be honoring a special man.

For the past three years, Mitchell Hill has been in charge of the Troup County Parks and Recreation Commission softball program.

Sadly, Hill died over the weekend, leaving behind an extraordinary legacy of service to the youth of Troup County in his capacity as a basketball coach, and as a valuable member of the recreation commission.

Pete Thrailkill, who is coaching the 11-12-year-old all-star team that is heading to Moultrie for the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association state tournament, said Hill did a tremendous amount of good for the local softball program.

“I can’t tell you how much of a difference he made,” Thrailkill said. “We started complaining and griping about the way it was going. They put him in charge, and he really stepped in and did more than was expected really. He listened. He was willing to work with you. Mitch said how can we make this better, and he took everybody’s suggestions. He took everybody’s ideas, and he did what he thought was best for the whole situation.”

All of the local softball teams representing the Troup County Parks and Recreation Commission will be wearing stickers with the letters MH on their batting helmets to honor Hill.

“We’re playing for Mitch,” Thrailkill said.

Thrailkill’s 11-12-year-old team will play its state opener in the double-elimination tournament at 5 p.m. today.

For the past month, the team has been practicing in preparation for what it hopes will be a successful stay in the tournament.

To help prepare, the all-star team took on an established travel team last week.

It was a tough night for Thrailkill’s team, and he felt that’s just what the team needed.

“We played them the other night, and they exposed us bad,” Thrailkill said. “We saw the things we need to work on. It’s ABC softball. That’s who we want to play, because that may be who we meet down there. We have to see where our weaknesses are.”

Thrailkill said the practices have been all about the Xs and Os of the sport, about making sure the players understand what they’re supposed to be doing every moment they’re on the field.

“Even if you don’t get the ball, you’re doing something,” Thrailkill said. “It took them awhile to figure that out.”

Thrailkill said most of the members of the team aren’t travel-ball players, although there are some exceptions, including Amber Corley, who will handle the pitching duties.

The last time Thrailkill coached an all-star team, he said the top finishers at state were all basically travel teams.

“We don’t know what we’re going to see when we get down there, whether we’re going to see true all-star teams like we have, or whether you’re going to get a travel team,” he said. “It happened to us last time.”

Thrailkill said every member of the team has been fully committed to the process and that they’ve all worked hard over the past month.

“These girls, they want to be here, and they want to go, and we’ll do the best we can,” he said.

TEAM MEMBERS: Emme Thrailkill, Kayla McBride, Amber Corley, Kristen Williams, Ava Shuford, Kayden Lewis, Aaliyah Morman, Dallas Strickland, Macee Stone and Kyla Smith.

Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports

Troup County all-star coach Pete Thrailkill talks to his players during an indoor practice on Monday. The Troup 11-12-year-old all-star team compete in the state tournament in Moultrie. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/web1_softball2.jpgTroup County all-star coach Pete Thrailkill talks to his players during an indoor practice on Monday. The Troup 11-12-year-old all-star team compete in the state tournament in Moultrie. Kevin Eckleberry | Daily News

By Kevin Eckleberry

keckleberry@civitasmedia.com