BY TREY CHAPMAN
A team of scrappy 9-year-old baseball all-stars from Copiah County is making history by becoming the first such county team to advance to the state Dixie Youth Tournament.
The journey began on June 23, 2008, in the District 6 North Sub-district tournament in Wesson with a four team tournament for the right to advance to the District 6 championship series.
The 9’s got off to a good start with a solid 13-3 victory over the Brookhaven National All-Stars. A touch Wesson team then forced the Copiah 9’s into the losers bracket, defeating Copiah 16-2. Coach Marty Torrence advised, “That ball game was probably the best thing that happened to us this season, it made the boys regain their focus and work ethic they responded well.”
The 9 year old team had to win the next three to advance from Sub-District Play. They did so by defeating Brookhaven American, Brookhaven National and Wesson in the championship game.
The District 6 Series began at Copiah against Natchez. The series got off to a rocky start for Copiah after a 16-1 whipping by the visitors. Copiah then dropped game two 8-7, but retained second place and headed to South State in Hattiesburg.
During the South State tournament Copiah faced Laurel American and won easily 12-4 to advance to the winner’s bracket and earn a one day bye. Copiah then defeated Petal, and earned another shot at Natchez. The boys from the river again knocked Copiah into the loser’s bracket, winning 10-3.
Copiah once again drubbed Petal 15-5 to draw another shot at Natchez. This time Copiah had a shot to win late in the game.
“We had the tying run at 3rd and the winning run at 2nd with one out. We were in position to win the game, and we just didn’t close the deal,” Torrence explained. “I was real proud of the heart that we showed during this contest. It just wasn’t meant to be for some reason.”
Copiah is able to advance to the state tournament by virtue of its second-place finish in Hattiesburg. The state tournament will be held in Hattiesburg, again.
“I can’t say enough about this team’s.heart. This has been a great experience for me as a coach to watch these kids compete and get better each day. I have been around Copiah County baseball for 40 years so I know just how special being a part of this is, I am excited about Copiah County 9’s firsst state tournament appearance and can’t wait to watch these boy’s do their thing this weekend,” advised coach Wayne Henry.
Head Coach Marty Torrence lately advised, “This experience began three years ago when these kids were seven years old. They are some of the best kids I have ever been around. Our league is very low in numbers and we have to out work our competition. This has been evident by the success that they have had over the past two All-Star season’s this group has compiled quite a resume. As 8 year olds they won North Sub-District 6 championship, District 6 runner-up and 3rd place in last year’s South State Tournament as well as the Sportsmanship award. This year as 9’s they have again repeated as North Sub District 6 champions, District 6 runner-up, South State Runner up and again received the Sportsmanship award. This group has been in big pressure situations and they have responded well. I am real proud of all twelve of the guys on the team. If I had to list where our best aspect has been it would have to be our depth of pitching. We have been led by a stable of pitchers to include the following, Dylan Torrence Bryce Chapman, Will Lingle and Austin Ragland.. Also we have had to call upon Noah Chapa and Conner Chapin and they have responded well when there number has been called as well. The pitching tandem also includes Colton ‘The Hose’ Meadows behind the plate he has been a great and calming asset behind the plate and he has been a weapon that other teams have had to respect on the base pads.”
The state tournament begins this weekend in Hattiesburg at The Larry Doleac Dixie Youth Baseball Complex in Tatum Park. The first game is Friday night at 6:00 against Canton.