Archived Story

All-Stars winning away from home

Published 12:01am Sunday, July 17, 2011

Last summer was my first time to experience youth All-Star baseball in all its glory.

In 2010, Duncan Park played host to a number of Dixie Youth tournaments spanning several different age groups, all the way from coach pitch to the 12-year-olds.

Right after Dixie Youth seemed to wrap up last summer, my attention immediately switched over to the T.M. Jennings All-Stars, which also hosted tournaments for several different age groups.

This summer though, outside of the Natchez 12s hosting Games 2 and 3 of their District 6 championship series, there wasn’t much happening in Natchez as far as postseason youth baseball.

After the enjoyment I got from covering both leagues’ postseason games last year, that was a bit of a letdown for me.

Summer in Natchez is generally the sports section’s slower period, with little in the way of prep sports going on other than the summer conditioning of the local schools’ football teams.

You might also occasionally find one of the local prep basketball or baseball teams playing offseason exhibition games, but even those are few and far between.

So for us, the prospect of covering Dixie Youth and T.M. Jennings postseason baseball is akin to finding an oasis in the middle of the desert. And that’s simply because the parents and fans really care about the games.

It’s always a lot more fun to cover events that people actually get excited about. That’s what makes Friday night football in the fall such an enjoyable experience for us. A certain atmosphere on Friday nights just makes it special, be it the bright lights, the roar of the crowd or the tenacity of the teams on the field.

Youth baseball in Natchez is the same way, especially when you get to All-Star season. Parents love seeing their children play and develop their skills. Several coaches have coached the same group of children throughout the years, and love going to war with that group each summer. And, of course, the local schools are certainly appreciative of young athletes learning the fundamentals of baseball at such a young age.

With both Dixie Youth and Little League on the road for the postseason this summer, it almost feels like I’m missing an integral part of covering sports in the Miss-Lou.

Of course, that didn’t stop the T.M. Jennings 9- and 10-year-old All-Stars, and the 11- and 12-year-old All-Stars from making it to, and winning, their district tournament this weekend in Hattiesburg. It also didn’t stop the Dixie Youth 12-year-old All-Stars from making it to South State, which they start playing in July 22.

Whether it’s home or away, the most important thing is that our local athletes are having success at the state level and representing Natchez well. It’s fun to cover games at home, but it’s just as fun to follow teams that keep winning.

MICHAEL KEREKES is the sports editor for The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3633 or at michael.kerekes@natchezdemocrat.com.