Columbus teams begin quests for South State title

July 2, 2010 11:12:00 AM



As a pitcher in high school and college, it was Andy Brown''s objective to throw pitches the batters couldn''t hit. 


Brown has an entirely different mindset now that he''s a coach in the Columbus-Lowndes Recreation Authority coach-pitch league. 


Brown, a 1995 graduate of Columbus High School who pitched at East Mississippi Community College, wants to place his pitches where his players can hit the ball. 


The 33-year old Brown hopes to be successful doing that when he coaches the Columbus National All-Stars in the Dizzy Dean 7-year old South State Tournament at Eupora. 


"They''re hitting well," Brown said in anticipation of the Nationals'' game against Eupora at 4 p.m. today. "Some of these guys literally didn''t see my pitching until two and a half to three weeks ago. After (practice) last night, I''ll tell you what, I don''t mind having a high ERA. I was real proud of them. I''m learning them and they''re learning me so we can get our timing right. They hit, gosh they hit good last night." 


In other games today in the tournament, the Columbus American All-Stars play East Central at 2:30 p.m., Caledonia plays Starkville at 4 p.m. and Louisville plays the Columbus Americans-East Central winner at 5:30 p.m. 


The championship game of the tournament is scheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday. 


Brown believes a strength of the Nationals will be their fielding. Every player was an infielder on his regular season team. 


"We''ve threatened to roll a couple of double plays," Brown said. "We haven''t yet, but we''ve gotten dang near close. 


"Pointing out a strength, I''d just say our infield as a whole. All in all, we''ve got a good, solid infield from third base to first base, we really do." 


The Nationals are made up of Drew Brown, Parker James, Hays Lumsden, Cooper Odom and Jacob Wilson of the Lowndes County Radial Dodgers, Zac Butler, Kameron Harcrow, Dakota Shaw and Taylon Stevenson of the Shaw Plumbing Reds, Adam Adair and Bailey Rowzee of the Doughty Brothers Giants, and Colby White of the Premier Ford Rangers. 


Coaches in the coach-pitch league considered having one all-star team before deciding to have two teams. 


"We basically picked 13 guys from the eight different teams and I talked to several different coaches about it and basically we had a lot of talent from the North side and the South side," Brown said. "After visiting with (Columbus Americans coach) Kelvin Smith a few times, he really hoped to see us staff two teams. We were like ''yeah we wanted to give everybody a chance.'' Then again you want to go down and compete well, but I have to admit just seeing (the Americans) play in a tournament a couple of weeks ago and working with our guys, I really feel like we made the right choice to staff two teams because we''ve got a good team and (the Americans) do too." 


Smith is encouraged about his team after playing in an 8-year old tournament in Columbus this past weekend and winning two of three games to finish in third place. 


"I think we''re pretty good," Smith said. "I mean, you know, I think we''re pretty stable. As long as we hit the ball and play good defense we''re going to be pretty good. I think we''ll be all right. I think we''ve got a pretty good team. 


"Our strength will be our hitting. If we hit the ball like I know we can hit the ball, we should be all right. Our defense is going to be pretty stable." 


The Americans'' roster consists of Deairyus Conner, Melvin Crawford, Richard Gay, Chris Gray and Kelvin Smith Jr. of the Hicks & Smith Orioles, Luke Altmyer, Lawson Dale, Jaylen Smith and Will Teague of the Columbus Orthopaedic Pirates, Jackson Conn, Jackson Dollar and Sam Hannon of the Conn Construction Braves, and Michael Frierson of the Montgomery Bailbond Yankees.