LAGRANGE – They’re ready to take on the gnats, the heat, and their opponents.
The Troup County 9-10-year-old all-stars are headed to Tifton this week to participate in the Georgia Parks and Recreation state softball tournament.
Troup County, which features an 11-person roster, will play its opening game in the double-elimination tournament on Wednesday.
Sarah Beth Snider, who has been coaching the team along with her father Curt, said the team is ready after a month’s worth of practices.
“It’s been a fun summer, that’s for sure,” she said. “They’ve put in a lot of hard work. They practice a lot. And we’ve gotten them to where we need to be, so hopefully when we go down there Wednesday, they’ll be able to show what they’re made of.”
After the Troup County Parks and Recreation Commission regular season ended, the top players from each team were selected to be a part of the all-star squad.
The coaches then put the players through some workouts to determine where each one of them would fit best on the field.
Snider said the message to the players is that each one of them is critical to the team’s hopes for success.
“We wanted to make sure that everybody knew it doesn’t matter if you’re on the outfield, the infield, the pitcher’s mound or catching, that everybody on the field is important,” she said. “It takes everybody to make a team, not just one person. We really stressed that to everybody.”
The team was supposed to hold a final walk-through practice for about 30 minutes on Monday, but it was cancelled because of the storm that moved through during the afternoon.
The players, coaches, and some of the parents did get together at Mighty Joe’s for dinner, and then all of the players headed to Snider’s house to spend the night for one final team-bonding experience.
“We’re having a sleep-over at my house, and then we’ll be off to state Wednesday,” she said.
Like the other Troup County all-star teams, the 9-10-year-old team members will be wearing special stickers on their batting helmets to honor Mitchell Hill.
Each of the helmets will have Hill’s initials on them.
Hill, who had been in charge of the Troup County Parks and Recreation Commission softball program for the past three years, died over the weekend.
Curt Snider said Hill is on the thoughts of all of those who knew him.
Snider said Hill “truly deserves credit for turning the (softball) program around,” and that he committed his life “to working with kids. Without him we would not be where we are.”
TEAM MEMBERS: Aylin Ulloa, Kaylee Bryant, Lilly Worthy, Natalie Schneider, Patience Winston, Madelyn Martin, Maderia Sirmons, Madison Petite, Chloe Scarbrough, Tyerra Truitt and Jaime Reynolds.
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports