T.M. Jennings’ teams get extra week to prepare for statePublished 12:01am Friday, July 20, 2012
NATCHEZ — The two T.M. Jennings all-star teams will have to wait an extra week before heading to Biloxi in pursuit of a state title.
Although the Mississippi Little League state championship tournament was originally scheduled for this weekend in Biloxi, weather delays have forced the tournament to be moved to next weekend, T.M. Jennings 11- and 12-year-old All-Stars coach Ernest Woods said.
“They said it was supposed to rain, but really, they haven’t finished their district tournament there,” Woods said Wednesday. “The rain messed them up.”
The delay will give the 11s and 12s an extra week of practice, but Woods said there are potential cons in waiting to play.
“It’s frustrating in a sense, but you can’t do anything about the weather,” Woods said. “I just hope the layoff doesn’t hurt us. We were well-prepared this week. Everyone was hyped up and ready.”
After winning district, Woods said he’s focusing on everything during practice: pitching, defensive and outfield drills, improving on hitting and continuing to learn good fundamentals.
“We took it back to the basics with fundamentals,” Woods said. “We had a couple of errors in district.”
For the 11s and 12s, Woods said there’s extra incentive to do well when the team finally does travel to Biloxi.
“Most of them have come up short (at state) in the last couple of years,” Woods said. “This is actually our third year to play for state, so we hope the third time is the charm.”
In order to come up big, Woods said the offense will have to show out.
“Our defense is solid; it’s the offense (that has to improve),” Woods said. “We’re capable. What happens is, we’ll put up four runs and get lax. We have to keep pounding.”
As much work as his players have put in though, Woods said he thinks his players are ready for state.
“When I stopped practice (Tuesday) night at 8:20, they got mad,” Woods said. “They wanted to go until 10. When you have that, you know they’re ready.”
9s and 10s
T.M. Jennings 9- and 10-year-old All-Stars coach Cedric Green said his players are also hyped up at the chance to pursue a state title next weekend.
“Some of them haven’t been before, but some of them have been so many times and haven’t won it,” Green said. “I don’t think they’ve even won a game down there, so they’re motivated to try to do it this time.”
At the same time, Green said he’s not going to put too much pressure on his players.
“We’re going to have to be patient and just play ball,” Green said. “We can’t worry about anything, we have to just go and have fun.”
But having fun means going there to play baseball, not go sight-seeing in Biloxi, Green said.
“We’re going down there to win a ball game,” he said. “If things go well, we might have time to let them go do something, but until then, it’s all business.”
Like the 11s and 12s, Green said his team will have to rely on its offense to win games.
“We have to hit the ball, that’s the bottom line,” Green said. “We’ve been working on both offense and defense, but we’ve been working on hitting mostly.”
Green also said he’s glad to see how his players have matured over the course of a regular season and all-stars.
“They’re hungry for the ball when it gets hit,” he said. “They’ll chase it down now, and a lot of them used to not be active when the ball gets hit. Now, everyone’s charging the ball. No one’s sitting back.”