July 15, 2014 10:17:45 AM
WEST POINT -- Scottie Perrigin is ready to ice his arm and kick up his feet.
Perrigin can relax a little easier knowing that his pitching career came to an end Monday night after helping the Columbus Nationals 8-year-old Coach-Pitch All-Star team win a state title. On Monday, Columbus defeated Starkville 18-4 for its fifth-straight victory to win the Dizzy Dean South state championship.
The victory was the second of the day for Columbus against Starkville. Columbus battled back through the losers' bracket after beating Ripley and the Columbus Americans in its first two games. It lost to Caledonia to fall into the losers' bracket, but it beat West Point, Louisville, and Caledonia on Sunday and Starkville twice Monday to take the title.
"We changed our defense around a little bit and started hitting the ball," said Perrigin, the team's head coach. "Everything worked out great for us. It just seemed like every move we made was the right move from then on out."
Perrigin said Columbus contemplated making several changes to its defense prior to its third game. After the loss, Perrigin said the team opted to move its first baseman to the outfield, to move its second baseman to third base, to move its third baseman to first base, to bring one of its outfielders in to play shortstop, and to put its shortstop into the outfield.
Perrigin said the team had experimented with the changes in practice. He said Columbus went with that defensive alignment once during the season and it worked out well, so the coaches opted to go back to it again.
"It made us more solid defensively," Perrigin said. "It felt good to do it, so we said let's give it a shot, and it worked out great."
Perrigin said the defensive changes helped the team cut down on its errors and gave the players more confidence at the plate, where he said the team hit at least 12 home runs.
"It was a big change," Perrigin said. "Our first two games, we played really good teams, but we didn't need to make a change. If we would have made the change for the third game, the outcome might have been a little different. Defensively, it was the right move. Error wise we didn't make anywhere the number of errors we made (earlier in the tournament). Defense is pretty much what won us the tournament."
Perrigin said hitting also played a key role. He said Grey Stokes, David Dupler, and Brady Kluse had over-the-fence home runs to lead the hitting attack.
"They stayed pumped up," Perrigin said of the players' confidence at the plate. "They were ready to go and they killed the ball. Sunday and Monday they killed the ball. They hit the ball hard."
Perrigin said the team won't be able to go to the Dizzy Dean World Series next week in Southaven because many of the players are going out of town. He said the team plans to get back together next month to begin a fall schedule of travel ball in the United States Specialty Sports Association.
Perrigin will be rested by then, but his players will get to take the mound and do the pitching in those games. That's fine with Perrigin, who will remember each time his players hit him with a shot back up the middle. He also will remember a home run filled weekend that help him close his pitching career in style.
"I would much rather see them go over the fence any day," said Perrigin, who thanked all of the parents for their involvement and support this season. "I was really proud of them. All of the coaches were proud of them."
Danny Lancaster, Scott Singly, Chris Crawford, and Clint Stokes also were coaches. In addition to Stokes, Dupler, and Kluse, Colin Perrigin, John Leyton Lewis, Daniel Pate, Caleb Jenkins, Spencer Singly, Cole Crawford, Colton Evans, Charlie Langford, and Nick Perrigin also were on the team.
The team was made up of players from six teams from the Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority Parks and Recreation League.