All-stars ready to roll

By Kevin Eckleberry

July 9, 2014

It had all the trappings of a Troup High baseball practice.

It was on the Troup High baseball field, the pace was fast just like a Troup practice, and the man leading the drills also just happened to be the Troup head coach.

It wasn’t a high-school practice, though.

The team that has been getting together at Troup High the past few weeks is the Troup County National 11-12-year-old all-star team.

The team has been preparing for the Dixie Youth Baseball state tournament that gets under way on Saturday at the Harris Baseball Complex.

Troup National will be one of 12 teams looking to win the tournament and secure an invitation to the Dixie Youth Baseball World Series.

The team’s head coach, Chad Marchman, asked Troup coach Craig Garner to set up a practice program similar to what he uses with his high-school team.

The practices are tightly structured, with little down time, and Marchman said everything has gone extremely well.

“I guess it was last week I told him to turn it up. Let’s go,” Marchman said. “He said, all right, we’re going to do my high-school practice. I said good. That’s what we’ve been doing. And they all loved it.”

Marchman is hoping the hard work the team has been putting in will pay dividends when the state tournament kicks off.

Troup National will play Augusta West at 1 p.m. in the opening round of the double-elimination tournament.

Marchman feels the team is as prepared as it can be, and he gives a lot of the credit for that to Garner, as well as assistant coach Brandon McCurry.

“For me, this team is more ready than any team I’ve coached,” Marchman said. “I attribute that to Craig and Brandon. They’ve been a big help.”

Saturday will mark the tournament debut for the team.

The other participants all had to make their way through a district tournament, including the other Troup County team that finished second in its district.

The host community is awarded an automatic entry into the tournament, though, and Troup National was given that spot.

While the team hasn’t played a tournament game yet, it has had a number of scrimmage games, and it has been working hard during practice sessions at Troup High, as well as the Harris Complex.

Now, it’s time to hit the field and see what happens.

“You just have to go out and win the games. That’s the deal,” Marchman said.

First up will be Augusta West.

Troup National will play again on Sunday, either at 1 p.m. or 3 p.m., depending on what happens in its first-round game.

The tournament will run through Thursday.

Considering Troup National could end up playing at least six tournament games, and possibly seven, pitching depth is a key, and Marchman believes the team is set up nicely in that area.

“I’ve got seven in the rotation,” Marchman said. “Two of them, I’m trying to figure out who’ll be my number one.”

Troup National also has the benefit of playing at home, which Marchman is grateful for considering he’s had to make a lot of road trips over the years coaching all-star baseball.

“We’ve made a bunch of (road trips),” Marchman said. “It’ll be nice. We won’t have to travel.”