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Advance Sports Braves adjust to Triple-A division ball

Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — Advance Sports Braves Rhett McDonald fields the ball during Thursday’s practice before heading to Baton Rouge Saturday to play in their first Triple A tournament.
Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — Advance Sports Braves Rhett McDonald fields the ball during Thursday’s practice before heading to Baton Rouge Saturday to play in their first Triple A tournament.

NATCHEZ — Saturday, the Advance Sports Braves USSSA travel baseball team got a taste of something new.

After a 12-2 mark in the Double-A division, the Braves were recently promoted to the Triple-A division. And the Braves traveled to Baton Rouge Saturday for a Triple-A state tournament.

“It may be an eye-opener for us, but we think we can compete,” Braves coach Shaun McDonald said heading into the tournament.

And the Braves didn’t fare too badly Saturday, going 1-1-1 in three games. The Braves defeated the Southern Crusaders 10-9, tied 4-4 with Lipari and fell to the Ascension Sun Devils 8-4.

“It was some good ball played,” McDonald said after the games were over.

McDonald said the biggest difference between the two divisions would be the play of their opponents in the field.

“Defense is the big difference,” McDonald said. “We can pitch and hit with anyone in the state, but defense is the difference between a Double-A and Triple-A team. They’re all pretty solid.”

Shortstop Cody Brown said staying positive would be important for him and his teammates as they move up to Triple-A.

“We have to have a positive attitude,” Brown said. “It’s easy. You just don’t worry about it (when bad things happen).”

With a new division in front of them, McDonald said the coaches are stressing the importance of hard work and teamwork as they make the adjustment. Since the Braves play year-round, though, it should be a quick turnaround.

“We don’t stop,” he said. “We take a break in December, and we’ll take a break for (Dixie Youth) All-Stars.”

With 10 players on his squad being all-stars, McDonald said he’s happy to share them with their youth league teams, since it only means they’ll get better.

“It gives them more reps, and it definitely makes them dedicated (players), because that’s a lot of baseball,” he said.

Braves first baseman/pitcher Peyton Fort said he’s fine playing a lot of baseball between the Braves and Dixie Youth. But he admitted there are days where it’s tough to make it out to the diamond.

“I think it makes me better,” Fort said. “I get tired of it, but my daddy says I have to practice so I can get better.”

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