July 24, 2009 9:04:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- The Starkville Baseball Association and the Park and Recreation Department wants to make sure the community shares the accomplishment of the Coach-Pitch 8-year-old Dizzy Dean All-Stars.
The Dizzy Dean South State championship trophy and a team picture of the Starkville All-Stars have been on display at the Starkville Sportsplex since Starkville won its title July 13.
Starkville coach Keith Lawrence said some parents of the players approached him about taking the trophy home, but he didn''t feel that was appropriate because the trophy belonged to the community.
Lawrence said it was SBA President Brian Evans'' idea to take the trophy to the Sportsplex so everyone could enjoy it. Starkville Park and Recreation Director Matthew Rye embraced the opportunity.
"Matthew said he would be glad to do it and the people from the SBA wanted to display it for about a month," Lawrence said. "I didn''t have a problem with it. So many kids go into that Sportsplex to play ball, and it would be a way to encourage Starkville kids to want to do this."
Rye has received a great deal of feedback about the trophy, and said it''s all about the players, coaches, and their accomplishment.
"It has drawn some interest," Rye said. "It''s nothing about us, but it shows the kids worked hard, had a good year, and the coaches did a good job of improving through the year. It''s a way to show we appreciate their hard work."
Rye said displaying the trophy is the least the park and recreation department can do for children who committed to playing games and practicing in 90-100 degree weather.
Evans and Rye have discussed providing a trophy case at the Sportsplex for such hardware.
Winning a state championship has created much exposure for Lawrence and his team.
"Everyone who knows I coach in the SBA has called to congratulate me and wanted to help the team out any way they could," Lawrence said. "Many people are so proud and we''ve had so many phone calls. We''ve got great kids and great parents.
"It''s great when you get 11 kids and their parents to get along and everybody loves each other. We don''t have any bullies where kids pick on each other."
Starkville will join 60 other teams for the Dizzy Dean World Series in Southaven beginning Saturday. Lawrence expects to learn today when and who his team will play in its first game.
Lawrence doesn''t believe his squad will be intimidated by anyone.
"There are no King Kongs out there to us," Lawrence said. "I think we can go out there and play with anybody. Our kids have been playing since January and have got the experience."
Starkville breezed through the South State Tournament, outscoring opponents 73-28. It defeated West Point 13-5 to win the title.
Lawrence said his team made it look easier than it was at the state tournament and is trying to get the players prepared for the World Series.
"We really weren''t tested in the state tournament," Lawrence said. "I knew what type of team we had and we played some top competition. We saw some things we needed to work on to make us even better."
Lawrence said Starkville has focused this week on being more consistent scoring runs and working on technique.
Starkville hasn''t played for almost two weeks, but Lawrence doesn''t believe the layoff has affected his team.
Lawrence calls Cameron Hines, Taylor Arnold, Coleman Kennedy, and his son, Keith, the leaders of the team.
Hines appreciates the lessons he has learned from his coach and believes it will serve him well at the World Series.
"(Lawrence) has taught us how to have great baserunning, how to back people up (on defense), and how to get in front of the ball," Hines said. "It''s good we are in the World Series, and I think our team is going to do great in it."
Howell Archer, Josh Arnett, Griffin Little, Vontayvious Mullins, Campbell Spivey, Tyler Talley, Orlando Trainer, and Zion Tucker round out the roster.
The Starkville 9-year-old All-Stars, coached by Evans, placed second in its state tournament, but are also traveling to the World Series in Southaven this weekend by open invitation.
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