July 7, 2009
GRENADA -- Prior to playing in the Dizzy Dean 7-year-old South State Invitational, the Columbus All-Stars paid special attention to hitting in practice.
It paid dividends as Columbus didn''t lose a game en route to winning the tournament.
Columbus averaged 23.3 runs per game in beating Batesville 25-9 on Friday, Grenada 25-10 on Saturday, and Starkville 20-12, and Grenada 23-8 on Sunday.
"We were pretty pleased we were able to score 93 runs in four games," Columbus head coach Joe Studdard said. "We would like to say it was practice. We''ve been practicing for a month or so and have really stressed hitting. We did a number of drills from tee work to soft toss to whiffle balls. You name it, we''ve done it as far as hitting goes. We really stressed hitting."
It wasn''t just hitting that led Columbus to the championship. The All-Stars allowed just 39 runs, an average of 9.8 runs per game.
"Our defense did well too because these teams, and I''m not sure about Batesville, but I know Grenada and Starkville won a lot of game scoring over 20 runs," Studdard said. "When we played them we were able to hold them below what they scored against the other teams."
When the team returned to Columbus on Sunday with the championship trophy, the players were greeted with a special welcome home.
"We''re excited," Studdard said. "The boys were able to get a police escort into town Sunday night and that was very exciting for them."
Eli Acker, Ryan Burt, Jamad Horn, Reid Huskison, Banks Hyde, Tyler Murphy, Carter Putt, Landon Sanderson, Payton Springfield, Cade Stacy, Lawson Studdard, and Jonathan Whittington helped the team win the title.
The players go to school at Columbus, Heritage Academy, New Hope, Immanuel and Victory Christian.
"The boys became good friends during the week," Studdard said. "We come from many different schools and areas of the county and we''ve got new friends."
Patrick Hyde, Shannon Murphy, and Michael Putt are assistant coaches.
Whittington (two triples, double), Springfield (home run, two singles), and Stacy (triple, two singles) led Columbus in the championship game against Grenada.
Earlier Sunday against Starkville, Horn had a home run and three singles and Springfield with two doubles and two singles.
In the team''s first game against Grenada, Stacy had two triples and two singles, Springfield had a triple and three singles, and Burt had a triple and three singles.
Columbus got off to a good start in the tournament against Batesville as Whittington had a home run, two triples, and a single, Hyde had a home run, triple, and two singles, and Springfield had two triples and two singles.
Columbus earned a berth in the Dizzy Dean 7-year-old World Series, which begins July 16 in Ringgold, Ga.
"We''re trying to make a decision about going to the World Series or play in some other tournaments, but we are going to play together for the rest of the fall," Studdard said. "We''re just going to wait to see how that goes."