This is the time when a team wants to be a full-strength, when it hopes to have every player functioning at 100 percent.
Unfortunately for the Troup County 13-14-year-old all-star team, that isn’t the case.
Troup County, which will play in the Dixie Boys Baseball state tournament on Saturday in Columbus, has been hit hard by injuries this summer.
A couple of the team’s top players likely won’t be able to play at state, and some others are banged up or just returning from injuries.
The show must go on, though, and Troup County still heads into the tournament with plenty of confidence.
“We feel good about it,” head coach Joey Doughman said. “We hate to have the injuries, but we’re fortunate. I think everybody on this team has played on a team that won a state championship.”
The team will try to take the first step toward a state title when it plays the host team, West Georgia, on Saturday at 3 p.m.
There are seven teams participating in the double-elimination tournament, and the last team standing will earn an invitation to the Dixie Boys Baseball World Series in August.
Even with the injuries, Troup County figures to be one of the teams to beat at state, and getting a win over West Georgia - which is composed of players from the Columbus area - would be a nice start.
“They’ve produced teams that have won the World Series. They’ll be pretty strong. It’ll be a good opening-round test,” Doughman said. “You strap it on and go at it right from the start.”
Although Troup County didn’t have to play in a district tournament to make it to state, the players haven’t been idle this summer.
Most of the players were with their respective high-school teams in June, and many of them also played travel ball.
Because of their various commitments, the full team hasn’t been together very often, but Doughman said that hasn’t been a problem since they’re so familiar with each other.
“Most of them have played on the same team, off an on, in groups of at least four and five since they were 8-years-old,” Doughman said. “They’ve got a good rapport with each other.”
The team has been hard at it this week getting some last-minute practice sessions in, and while that’s important, Doughman said everyone is ready to get the tournament started.
“We’re ready to hit the field, that’s for sure,” Doughman said. “It’s been a long month.”