July 5, 2009
Three weeks isn''t a lot of time to perfect the deception needed to collect a cooler, to sneak up on a coach, and to deliver a victory dousing.
But Chuck Rose was willing Saturday night to give his players the benefit of the doubt.
Judging from their performance on the field, the Grenada Pink Sox just might have to work on their sneak attack.
The Grenada Pink Sox defeated the Mississippi Blast 2000-Clinton 8-4 to win the North Half state title at the 8-and-under Coach-Pitch tournament.
"They just love to compete," Grenada Pink coach Chuck Rose said. "They just want to make everything right, and they all care. They want to please us, as well as themselves, and play hard."
With the victory, Grenada will advance to the overall state tournament July 17-18 in Ridgeland.
Annie Box, Kacey Carpenter, Lainee McKelroy, and Morgan Claire Rose were on the 8-and-under All-Star team last year that placed fifth at the Dizzy Dean World Series in Southaven.
This is Grenada''s first season in the Amateur Softball Association.
The decision to play ASA is proving to be fruitful. The 5-0 showing Friday and Saturday that included two victories against Clinton and others against teams from Iuka, Caledonia, and Amory was only the team''s second appearance this year in a tournament.
Coach Rose said the team was formed by taking 12 All-Stars from Grenada''s six-team league. The team went 1-2 in pool play last week in a tournament in Batesville and showed the signs of having eight players on their first big stage.
"They were scared to death over there," Rose said. "They grew up a lot in a week''s time and kind of saw what all of the hoopla was all about. We just let them know they had to believe in themselves. They''re a good bunch, and they love to work hard."
The Pink Sox didn''t show the same butterflies in Columbus.
A rally from an 18-16 deficit in the bottom of the seventh against the Mississippi Blast 2000 on Friday gave the team the added confidence to know it could win a title.
Rose said the team wouldn''t have been able to beat Clinton like it did Friday if it hadn''t been through the experience in Batesville. He said last week''s tournament showed the players they had to fight until the end of games and it is critical to believe in themselves.
The Pink Sox also knew they could count on their defense. Taking a page from the Pontotoc team that won the Dizzy Dean World Series last year, all of the Grenada players go through a routine each half inning before they play defense.
"Defense, defense, what''s it going to be?" the chant starts. The players tap each heel with their glove and continue. "Defense, defense, one two, three," they say, tapping the ground with their gloves and then jumping into the air.
Fittingly, the Pink Sox won the title on a foul out to the catcher. The out set off a celebration that culminated five steps to the left of third base. The players grouped together to surround a blue cooler and wrestled it out to the field.
Coach Rose must have sensed it was time to get wet, so he arched his back and bent at the waist and prepared for his victory celebration.
The drenching he received capped a three-week run that began with high expectations and ended with plans for a trip to Ridgeland.
"The thoughts (when the team was formed) were that we had a real good team, but when you have 7- and 8-year-old girls out there sometimes you never know," Rose said. "Everybody in our community believed this team was going to be good, so we have had a lot of support. They saw the top-level girls and thought hey, they are going to be tough, and they are going to be a good team."
Team members are: Angela Badome, Alexa Lucius, Presley Rice, Kaila White, Gracie Willis, Addison Suber, Elizabeth Taylor, and Kiersten Hayden.
Jackie Box, Carolyn Taylor, and John Lucius are coaches.
The team has only two 7-year-olds.
Any team that participated in the North Half state tournament is eligible to play in the overall state tournament. The number of teams that advance from the North and South Half tournaments will determine the number of divisions -- Gold, Silver, and/or Bronze -- at the state tournament.
The top four teams from the North Half state tournament are expected to be ready to compete in the Gold Division at the state tournament.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.