Two Kosy teams ready for Dixie Youth state tourneysBy LAURENCE HILLIARD,
Two Kosciusko Dixie Youth baseball teams will play for state championships.
The 5-and-6-year-old team will play in a 12-team tournament at Bear Pen Field in Cleveland, beginning Friday. The 11-and-12-year-old team will host a 12-team tournament at Hugh Ellard Park beginning July 12. Both tournaments are double elimination, with winners advancing to the World Series.
The 5-6 team will open against a team from Pike County on Field 1 at 5:30. If Kosciusko wins, the next game will be noon Saturday against West Jasper or Pontotoc. But if there is a loss, Kosciusko will drop into the losers’ bracket and will play the West Jasper-Pontotoc loser in an elimination game at 9 a.m. Saturday.
Kosciusko qualified by winning a district tournament at Philadelphia. Wes Carter, the Kosciusko manager, said his team is hitting very well, which he said is essential at this level.
Teams have 12 players. Ten are in the field, including four outfielders, but all 12 bat. The game is coach-pitch. Bases are 60 feet apart and the mound is 36 feet from the plate.
Games are five innings, with a maximum of seven runs per inning. If a team has an insurmountable lead, such as eight runs after four innings, the game ends.
Kosciusko includes three players from last year’s team that finished third at the state tournament. Reed Tillman is the catcher, Braden Langford plays third base and Holt Fancher is the pitcher, who positions himself behind the coach. “He’s in a circle and cannot leave that circle until the ball is in play,” Carter said.
The tournament is scheduled for completion Sunday. The champion will play in the World Series in Brookhaven July 18-21.
Cooper Stevens will pitch for the 11-12 team in the first game of the state tournament. “He has good high velocity, good control, good composure on the mound and he is a good team leader,” said manager Sam Hill. “He’s going to get us off to a great start.”
Stevens is limited to 65 pitches, but if he throws fewer than 40 he will be able to come back the next day. Games are six innings.
The second pitcher is Brayden Hill, the manager’s son. “Cooper has a little more velocity. But other than that, there is very little difference between him (Hill) and Cooper. They both have great composure,” the manager said.
The team’s best hitters are Hill, who plays second when not pitching and bats leadoff, left fielder Andrew Mancell and third baseman Bennie Powell.
Hill said fundamentals will be the key for his team. “As long as we play fundamental baseball we will have a chance in every game.”
The state champion will play in the World Series August 3-8 in Ruston, Louisiana. The Mississippi champion will play the Virginia champion in the opening round.
Kosciusko’s 7-8 and 9-10 teams were eliminated in district tournaments.
Dixie Youth has teams from Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.