Natchez 12s proved to be championsPublished 12:01am Sunday, July 10, 2011
After their Game 2 loss to the Pine Hills 12-year-old All-Stars Friday night in the Dixie Youth District 6 tournament, the Natchez 12s had a choice.
On one hand, they could have let the frustration from dropping a 10-7 contest carry over into their second game, possibly affecting the way they played.
Instead, though, the Natchez 12s decided to treat Game 3 as an entirely new game, where the results from the previous game didn’t matter.
And thanks to that mindset, the Natchez 12s won their elimination game against Pine Hills 5-0, securing a spot in the Dixie Youth South State tournament in two weeks.
After the game, Natchez 12s head coach Gary Farmer said he was proud of the way his players responded to a disappointing Game 2, brushing it off in order to take care of business.
“We got in the dugout after the first game, and we played bad,” Farmer said. “They came in with their heads up ready for the second game to start. They never thought they were going to lose.”
Natchez opened the District 6 tournament Thursday night with a 10-5 win at Pine Hills in Game 1. With such a convincing win, some fans might have thought Game 2 Friday night would be just a formality, where the 12s would finish taking care of business and begin looking ahead to South State.
But Pine Hills showed why it belonged in the district tournament, outhitting Natchez 10-8 and forcing a Game 3. The 12s didn’t help matters when they committed four errors in Game 2, something they would have to improve on if they had any hope of winning the series.
But true champions always get the job done with their backs against the wall, and in Game 3, the Natchez 12s proved to everyone they were champions. Natchez pitchers Gage Smith and Brock Farmer combined to no-hit Pine Hills, while scoring five runs on eight hits. And while Pine Hills had five errors in Game 3, the Natchez 12s cleaned up their play in the field by not committing a single error.
On the surface, it would appear the Natchez 12s won Game 3 after the final out was made. I would argue that the game wasn’t won on the final out, but in that dugout visit after the second game when the team decided it simply wasn’t going to lose.
With a district championship in hand, the Natchez 12s now turn their attention to a different kind of opponent: two off weeks.
With the South State tournament not starting until July 22, the 12s will have to fend off the monotony of doing nothing but practicing, and the temptation to get complacent. Like Friday night after the Game 2 loss, the 12s will have to make the choice of whether or not to step up as the champions they are. The 12s’ South State performance likely hinges on the choice of how to respond to the layoff.
The Natchez players already proved they have the character of champions, now it’s all about continuing to make the right choices based on that character.