Local Squad Ready to Get Started
Alan Mills, manager of the Moore County All-Star team that is competing in the Dixie Youth AAA World Series, has one thing he keeps telling his young squad: “Be aggressive, be tough, be positive.”
For a team of 10-year-olds, that advice has proven to be a great motivator. The squad has competed in two tournaments in the run- up to the World Series competition, winning the SWAC regional and finishing as runner-up in the state tourney.
With teams rolling into town from 11 states to compete in the weeklong event at Hillcrest Park outside Carthage, the local nine has been preparing since early June for the event. Their opening-round opponent is the state champion from Florida, a game that takes place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
“I know they’ll be a little nervous,” Mills said. “I know I’m nervous. There’s a lot of stuff being thrown at them, but it also just means they’ll have a lot to enjoy.
“But I’ve told them they aren’t playing the University of Florida, they’re competing against other kids just like them. I’ve told them to just take it one game at a time.”
The success in the tournaments wasn’t all that surprising to Mills and his fellow coaches.
“They clicked together. They come from all over the county,” Mills said, “but the good thing is how quickly they came together (as a team).”
They have been practicing three times a week since putting the team together in early June.
“You just about have to drag them off the field,” Mills said about his kids’ attitude to the practices that have been held on the Elise Middle School field.
Mills is looking at several players to handle pitching duties during the double-elimination tournament that ends Thursday. Dakota Garner, Carter Long, Trent Marion, Jarrett Mills, Parker Brown and Nicholas Phan are prepared to take the mound during the tournament. Phan, the team’s captain, is also the primary catcher for the team, with Dakota Green as his backup.
Other members of the team are Logan “L.B.” Briggs, Jordan Moss, Jack Nixon and Nicholas Lambert.
Because of an injury to Cody Jones, the squad recently added Alex Mouldin to the 12-member squad. Jones was injured during practice and will not be able to play in the tournament, but he will be involved in all the activities surrounding the event, Mills said.
Nixon is a good example of the versatility of the team. Mills said that “whereever you put him, you know he's going to play well.” Many of the players are slated to see action in both the outfield and the infield.
“As long as they believe in themselves,” Mills said,” they can go far in this tournament.”
Assisting Mills as coaches are Vinh Phan and Bradley Garner. Brad Briggs, although he won’t be coaching during the tournament, has also been helping prepare the team in the build-up to the World Series.
Mills said he was thrilled by the support of the parents of the players, the county rec department and volunteers.
“We’re really excited,” said Mills. “We’re ready to get this under way. I told my kids just to enjoy the moment and be positive.”
Moore County earned a berth in the tournament as the host squad. The other 11 teams competing earned their berths by winning Dixie state tournaments. The following is a listing of the other squads participating.
Virginia — Blacksburg; Alabama — Daphne National; Tennessee — Selmer; Georgia — Winder; Arkansas — Texarkana; Florida — West Seminole; North Carolina — West Robeson American; South Carolina — Midland; Texas — Nacogdoches; Louisiana — Moss Bluff; Mississippi — Purvis.
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