Dixie youth tourney gets under way
By Kevin Eckleberry
LAGRANGE – The road to Oxford begins today.
In early August, the Dixie Youth Baseball 9-10-year-old World Series will be held in Oxford, Ala., with 12 teams from across the South fighting it out for the championship.
There’s a long way to go before teams can start thinking about winning the World Series, though.
Teams first have to make it through the district round, and they then have to win their respective state tournaments to qualify for the World Series.
For two Troup County teams, the first step begins today as the District 1 tournament kicks off in Manchester.
It’s a seven-team, double-elimination tournament, and the top two finishers will advance to the state tournament in July.
Among the participating teams are the Troup National and Troup American all-stars, and they’ll both be on the field today at 7 p.m.
Troup American will play Schley, while Troup National will face Thomaston.
Win or lose, both teams will play again on Saturday at 10 a.m. The tournament goes through Tuesday when a champion will be crowned.
Both Troup County teams have been hard at work over the past few weeks preparing for what they hope will be a winning summer.
This week, the teams haven’t been able to get on the field much because of rain, but they’ve still gotten their work in at the various indoor facilities in the area.
On Thursday afternoon, the Troup American players and coaches got together at the Harris Baseball Complex for one final practice, and now it’s time to play.
“We don’t know our competition, but I’m confident in this team,” Troup American head coach Rusty Taylor said. “I think we can beat anybody, if we don’t make mistakes. Defense I think is very strong. If our pitchers can throw strikes, get them to hit ground balls, we’ll be in good shape.”
Troup National head coach Chad Marchman believes his team is ready as well.
“We’ve been working hard, that’s for sure,” Marchman said. “You have to get through the mental part and get them ready, and I believe we’ve done that.”
The all-star rosters are made up of the various teams from the National and American divisions of the Troup County Parks and Recreation Commission.
Oftentimes, many of the players occupied the same position during the season, so some of them have to move to different places on the field for the all-star games.
Taylor said each of the players has been fine with whatever is asked of them.
“It’s been a great group. They’ve been really good about that,” Taylor said. “I told them at the first practice, I know you’re all pitchers and shortstops, but on an all-star team, everybody has to play different places.”
Marchman said his players have also been agreeable to whatever has been asked of them.
“I haven’t had any problems,” Marchman said. “It’s been really fun. And it’s always fun to get a new group, and bring them up through the age groups.”
Marchman said it’s a young group that includes six 8-year-olds.
“We’re really young,” he said. “It’s probably one of the most athletic teams I’ve had, and in a baseball knowledge squad I’ve ever had, but we’re young. But age doesn’t matter. It’s whoever plays the hardest.”
Marchman added that playing a clean game is critical.
“It’ll come down to who makes the least mistakes, and who has got the pitchers that throw more strikes, and that’s what I’ve been preaching,” Marchman said.
Taylor said he’s appreciative and honored to be a Troup County all-star coach, and he has made sure the players understand how important that is as well.
“They all play travel ball, but this is representing your county,” Taylor said. “You’re representing Troup County now. You’re not the Pirates, or the Cubs. You’re representing Troup County, and this is an honor for the coaches and the players.”
Troup American vs. Schley, 7 p.m.
Taylor County vs. Marion County, 7 p.m.
Thomaston vs. Troup National, 7 p.m.