July 19, 2013 12:04:03 PM
Chad Moody and the Columbus Nationals are moving blindly into the Dizzy Dean World Series.
Since winning the 11- to 12-year-old Dizzy Dean South State tournament on July 9 at Propst Park in Columbus, Moody and the Columbus Nationals have wondered who they will play Saturday when they open play in the Dizzy Dean World Series in Southaven.
Moody said speculation centered on a possible matchup against the runner-up from the state of Georgia after a preliminary bracket was posted on the Internet. But Moody said Thursday that bracket wasn't official and only whetted everyone's appetite to get back to action.
"Everybody is on board," said Moody, whose team practiced Thursday night at Propst Park. "They're anticipating the games and are ready to get started just like the other teams are."
The Columbus Nationals beat Louisville 6-4 to cap an unbeaten four-game run through the South State tournament. Moody said he gave the team the weekend off before it returned to practice Monday to prepare for the trip north. He hopes the work the team put in this week has it prepared to improve on its seventh-place finish two years ago and its fifth-place showing last year. The team will find out this afternoon who it will play Saturday morning in its first game.
Moody believes experience will be a key. Eight of the team's 12 players have played in the World Series, so the team should be comfortable against some of the best teams from across the country. Still, he knows anything can happen with 11- to 12-year-olds.
"I hope everybody is healthy," Moody said. "We don't know who we're going up against, but all of the teams are good."
Moody isn't sure what strategy the Columbus Nationals will use at the World Series. He said the team opted to go with its No. 3 pitcher in its first game in the South State tournament to save its top two pitchers. Columbus may not be able to use the same approach at the World Series because Moody said it is imperative to get off to a fast start. The team also could receive a lift from the return of an injured player, who just happens to be a pitcher.
"They're so pumped up," Moody said. "They're ready for the challenge."
Moody said pitching will be another key factor in moving through the first four-team bracket. He said the players are looking forward to facing a strong team because they are confident and are eager to build on the momentum from the South State tournament. He also likes the team's balanced hitting attack. He said different players have emerged throughout the year to pick up the slack when other players have struggled. He is confident that trend will continue this weekend.
"Each person is playing their role," Moody said. "If we continue to do that, I think we'll continue to win.
"When one person is down the next person behind them is going to hit. We want all of them to hit because when one of them is down it doesn't mean we can't get on a roll. There have been quite a few times we ave scored runs when we have had two outs."
CSS will televise the semifinals and finals, which is an added bonus for players who have toiled in the summer heat for a chance to win a championship. Moody said the coaches and players have had plenty of time to savor their South State crown. Now they are ready to take the next step.
"If our pitching is doing well I think we will do well," Moody said. "We have three or four kids we can put on the mound at anytime and feel comfortable. As long as we all stay healthy and our arms are not hurting and we are patient at the plate and we throw strikes I think we're good. I really like our chances."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.