STARKVILLE — Starkville”s Dizzy Dean All-Star baseball teams are looking to celebrate more than Independence Day this weekend.
The teams hope to add South State championships and a trip to the World Series to the holiday fun.
Jim Moorehead”s age group seeks to defend its state championship when it plays in the Freshman 12 South State in Winona at 3:30 p.m. today. Starkville received a bye and will play the winner of the Winona-Grenada game.
“Our guys are excited about being together,” Moorehead said. “They are real close because this is our fourth year to be together and they all know each other well. Some of the best times for these boys isn”t during the game but between games when they can hang out.
“It is unusual that they are having the state on the 4th of July weekend, but Dizzy Dean was probably running out of weekends to host these tournaments.”
Other Starkville All-Stars teams in state tournament action this weekend are the Coach-Pitch 7 in Grenada, the Minor 10 in Columbus, and the Freshmen 11 in Eupora.
Moorehead”s group has progressed in the four years he has coached Dizzy Dean All-Stars.
“We have a core of about seven or eight players I”ve coached for all four years,” Moorehead said. “We were fortunate enough four years ago (2006) to get fourth in the state out of 25 teams. In 2007, we were second in the state, and last year we won the state. I don”t know if back-to-back state champs has been done anywhere, so we wanted to do that.”
The members of the Starkville Freshmen 12 All-Stars are: Harper Arnold, Jacob Batchelor, Austin Burkis, Josh Crittenden, Michael F. Godley, Tequan Goliday, Isaac S. Jamerson, John McReynolds, Ben Moorehead, Jared Ousley, Hunter Peeples, and Joel Ray.
Moorehead said each player has the ability to play pitcher or catcher, which can be a huge advantage in tournament play.
“When you are in a tournament that has pitching rules, that really comes in handy,” Moorehead said. “I know it”s something that people envy about, and I”ve never seen it ever in baseball. You may have a couple of pitchers and two or three catchers, but we have 12 that can pitch and 12 that can catch.”
Starkville”s Minor 10 All-Stars have been preparing for state the past two weeks and broke even in practice tournament action last weekend.
Coach Derrick Savage has tried to introduce fundamentals and to find the best spots for his players as they get set to take on Columbus National at 4 p.m. today in Columbus.
“There are certain things they still have to develop,” Savage said. “We start teaching more the strategy of the game, but a lot of kids at this age started learning a couple of different positions and pretty well understand what they do there, but we”re still trying to develop them as hitters and fielders.”
Savage has tried to get his point across through repetition at practice, and has introduced some of the finer points of strategy, such as baserunning.
The members of the Minor 10 All-Stars are: Tavian Clark, Luke Davis, Vance Dewberry, Stephon Dotson, Timothy Hogan, Sage Pritchard, Connor Reinike, Thomas Roberts, Bradley Savage, Javian Sherman, Reid Stevens, and Tyler Stovall.
“We do have several on the team who are pretty fast and pretty aggressive on the basepaths, and we have a pretty good hitting team top to bottom in the lineup,” Savage said. “We have several guys who can hit the ball hard. I”m really pleased with that.”
Starkville”s Freshman 11 All-Stars are in Eupora waiting on the winner of the Grenada-Greenwood game at 5 p.m. today.
Coach Will McWhorter has a confident team that intends on going to Webster County and bringing back a state title.
“We are looking much forward to it,” McWhorter said. “We”ve got a good team with a bunch of good boys that love to play the game. We are going to go down there and win it.”
Alex Bedwell, Jermaine Clark, Caleb Griffin, Parker Guest, Noah Heflin, Cameron Johnston, Raphael Leonard, Matthew Oxford, Will Prewitt, Jerry Taylor, Hunter Tranum, and Jared Williams make up the roster of the Freshman 11 All-Star team.
“I don”t have a real fast team, but we have a couple of boys who are fast,” McWhorter said. “Everybody on the team hits and they hit the ball well. It”s hard to beat our defense. We”ve got a real good infield with some solid outfielders.”
The Starkville Coach-Pitch 7 All-Stars began its state tournament at 1:30 p.m. today in Grenada against Water Valley.