July 1, 2009
There is something to be said for togetherness.
The way Johnny Suggs sees it, this just might be the year for the Caledonia 10-year-old All-Stars to compete for a title.
Caledonia will be one of 16 teams that will begin play Friday at Propst Park in Columbus in the Dizzy Dean Baseball South State Tournament.
The five- to six-day event also will feature teams from Columbus (Americans, Nationals), Starkville, Louisville, West Point, and Hamilton.
Suggs, who is in his fifth year of coaching age-group baseball, said many of the players on this year''s team have played together since they were 7 years old.
Last year, Suggs said the team, which was made up of mostly 9-year-olds, was "outmanned and outgunned" against older competition. He said the team finished eighth or ninth.
This year, Suggs hopes things will be different.
"They''re fired up. They''re ready to go," Suggs said. "They feel they have a very good opportunity and chance this year."
Suggs said the players'' confidence comes from seeing each other play in the regular season. He said everyone has improved and matured as baseball players, which makes this weekend exciting.
"I feel they have a great chance of going very far, if not all of the way," Suggs said. "Most of the players can play any position on the field. We have a lot of talent this year."
The players are: Brady Scarbrough, Spencer Unruh, Dylan Darling, Logan Suggs, Triston Gardner, Jared Reed-Wood, Sam Cooper, Jacob Sudduth, Noah Smith, Caleb Comer, Kristian Mott, and Will Rollins.
Rory Sneed also likes his team''s chances.
Sneed, who is in his sixth year coaching youth baseball, said his Columbus Nationals team has six players returning from the squad that last year won the state tournament.
Unfortunately, the team opted not to go to the national tournament due to financial considerations.
Things could change this year with the tournament in Tupelo. But Sneed and his players aren''t booking hotel rooms just yet, even though they are confident.
"I think have a good chance," Sneed said. "We lost some good players but we have some good replacements who should help us. I am certainly not predicting a championship, but I think we have a good chance."
Sneed said his team''s pitching depth and hitting strength could give it an edge. He said it isn''t out of the question that the team will be able to score 10 runs in each six-inning game.
The players are: Thomas Cooper, Logan Sneed, Deonteau Rieves, Peyton Buckner, Alex Adair, Kyle Cruthirds, Tyler Anderson, Parker Lane, Thomas Stevens, LaQuinston Sharp, Hunter Short, and Dalton Ford.
Assistant coaches are: Jamie Anderson, Jay Cook, and Jamie Sharp.
Billy White will coach the 10-year-old Columbus Americans All-Stars. The players are: C.J. Gholson, Wesley Jones, Kylin Hill, Jacob Swartz, Gabriel Brown, Malik Henry, Robert Brown, Chandler Honnol, Monterell Neal, LaDarius Cooper, and Jake McCollough.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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