After cruising to a 5-0 record in the district tournament, the Troup National 9-10-year-old baseball team will try to keep the good times rolling in the Dixie Youth Baseball state tournament that gets under way today in Wrens.
A year ago, Troup National made it all the way to the state-championship game before falling to Lee County.
This team will try to take the next step and earn an invitation to the Dixie Youth Baseball World Series, although head coach Kyle Crawford said no one can afford to look past today’s first game.
Troup will take on Brookwood today at noon.
There will be two seven-team brackets, with the top teams from each bracket meeting in the best-of-three championship series that will be held July 13-14.
“It’s one game at a time,” Crawford said. “Brookwood won their division, so they won’t be a slouch. They’re not going to focus too much beyond (today’s) game.”
There’s no doubt this team has what it takes to win the state title, though.
Four of the current players were on last year’s team that finished second in the state, and a number of other players have all-star experience as well.
At the district tournament, Troup put it all together.
The pitching was dominant, the defense was close to flawless, and the offense consistently put up big numbers.
Now, Troup will try to put it together at state as well.
“The objective is to play good and the hope is that we get farther than we did last year,” Crawford said.
Troup wrapped up the district title on June 27 with a win over Pike County, and it has spent a lot of time practicing and conditioning since then.
Crawford said, since the team was formed more than a month ago, a heavy emphasis has been put on strength training.
“Every kid on the team has gotten stronger. They’re hitting the ball farther,” Crawford said. “We’ve had two or three kids that never hit home runs that are hitting home runs in practice now.”
While the offense is in good shape, a deep pitching staff could be Troup’s key to success in a tournament that lasts a week.
“Our pitchers and catchers, a lot of them went to a pitching and catching camp this week and they’re pretty sharp,” Crawford said. “I hope they’re going to come out strong.”
At district, Wesley Marchman, Sam Henderson, Zach Turner and Jake Cardwell each mowed the competition down on the mound.
“They pitched great for us,” Crawford said.
Troup tuned up for state by playing Auburn, which is hosting the Alabama state tournament, on Thursday.
“It was a good game, and I think it helped our guys get accustomed to seeing live pitching again and being in a game situation,” Crawford said.