Troup National is chasing a championship
LAGRANGE – They’ve overcome every obstacle placed in their path.
The Troup National 9-10-year-old all-stars got together in June for the beginning of what they hoped would be a successful summer.
It has been that and more.
After going 10-0 in the district and state tournaments combined, Troup National will now try to finish the summer by winning the Dixie Youth Baseball World Series.
The 12-team tournament, which features 11 state champions as well as the host team, gets under way in Lexington, S.C. today.
The Troup National team, or Team Georgia as it will be known in the tournament, made the trip to South Carolina on Friday to participate in the home-run derby and the opening ceremony.
Today at 5:45 p.m., Troup National will begin its World Series stay with a game against Virginia.
The double-elimination tournament continues through Thursday when a champion will be crowned.
If Troup National continues to play like it has throughout the summer, it should have a great shot to be the last team standing.
After going 3-0 in the district tournament, Troup National won all seven of its games in the state tournament.
In the 10 tournament games combined, Troup National has outscored its opponents 146-20, and it has scored in double digits nine times.
The time Troup National didn’t reach double digits was in the state-championship game when it beat Perry 7-3.
“Back in the early spring, this is kind of what we envisioned,” Troup National head coach Danny Swann said. “Everything worked out. We’ve got 12 perfect kids. We’ve got the perfect coaches. The community’s been very good to us. And the parents are great.”
Troup National’s most recent competitive game was nearly three weeks ago when it wrapped up the state championship.
The players were given a week off following the state tournament, and they’ve been working hard at practice the past two weeks in preparation for the World Series.
“We took off the week after the state tournament. We took a break,” Swann said. “When they came back they were a little bit rusty, but it didn’t take long.”
Swann said the team has gotten a lot accomplished the past two weeks.
In addition to Swann and assistant coaches Chip Medders, Ricky Cook and Lance Morris, Troup High head coach Craig Garner and Troup assistant coach Richie Barber have also been helping out.
“It has been more of the technical side of baseball,” Swann said. “Why do we do this? What’s my job? Coach Garner has gotten involved in it, and we’ve done drills, just like the high-school team does it. Every day, about 70 percent it’s what the high school does every day.”
While this team wasn’t officially formed until the Troup County Parks and Recreation Commission spring season ended, the players know each other well.
Of the 12 players on the roster, nine of them have been playing on the same travel baseball team for three years.
Medders coaches that travel team, and he said those nine players, as well as the other three members of the all-star team, are great to work with.
“I’d coach this little group here every day of the week,” Medders said. “I just love working with them. They don’t complain about anything. They just come to work. There’s really no me involved.”
Swann said the players love playing baseball, and that he has a hard time getting them to leave after practice.
“After practice, they’re staying behind, and we have to run them off,” Swann said. “They love it.”
At the district and state tournaments, Troup National got it done by doing everything well.
The pitching was exceptional, the batters hit for power and average, the defense was superb, and the players almost always made the right decisions.
Medders said that wasn’t a surprise.
“This is a special group,” Medders said. “This is a good group of boys. Their baseball IQ is off the charts.”
Joining Troup National in the World Series are the state champions from Texas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana and Arkansas.
The team from Lexington earned an automatic invitation to the tournament.
TEAM MEMBERS: Jesse Swann, Colton Esposito, Devon Murphy, Ty Medders, Trey Cook, Cole Garner, Reed Morris, Trevor Booton, Seth Stargell, C.J. Stephens, T.J. Wilkerson and Preston Pressle. Danny Swann is the head coach, and the assistants are Chip Medders, Ricky Cook and Lance Morris.
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports