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Dixie Youth coach-pitch All-Stars prepare for sub-district

Ethan Isbell, left, fields a ground ball as teammates watch during a Natchez Dixie Youth coach-pitch All-Star practice Wednesday at Sprague-Goussett Field at Duncan Park. (Justin Sellers \ The Natchez Democrat)
Ethan Isbell, left, fields a ground ball as teammates watch during a Natchez Dixie Youth coach-pitch All-Star practice Wednesday at Sprague-Goussett Field at Duncan Park. (Justin Sellers \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — They may be wearing different-colored hats, but the Natchez Dixie Youth coach pitch All-Stars must all learn to play together with one uniform.

After gathering up all of the 7- and 8-year-old coaches, the league made a tough decision in picking 12 players to represent the city.

But perhaps the most difficult task for head coach Jeff Gambari was only being given two weeks to prepare this group of boys for postseason play in the sub-district tournament in Brookhaven.

“We’ve seen a lot of progress in two weeks,” Gamberi said. “Once we got the kids together, we could see what we needed to work on.”

Above, Christian Wright, left, and the rest of the Natchez All Star coach-pitch team drink water during a break from practice Wednesday. (Justin Sellers \ The Natchez Democrat)
Above, Christian Wright, left, and the rest of the Natchez All Star coach-pitch team drink water during a break from practice Wednesday. (Justin Sellers \ The Natchez Democrat)

Gambari said the first-place winner of this tournament heads to the district tournament, and the top two teams from district head to the state tournament.

Gambari said that practice has been going well for the all-star team, and that their practices are more about learning each other than working on their skills.

Having a team full of the best players in the league could lead to some clashing egos, but Gambari said he’s making sure they don’t have that problem.

“These kids are all-stars for a reason,” Gambari said. “It’s just a matter of coming together as a team. Making sure they all understand they all have to have the right attitude and give effort.”

He said the all-star team has the talent to win all of their games, but it will take more than talent to be the best among the best.

John Carter Austin said he is excited about playing among the best players in the coach-pitch age division.

“It feels great to play with players that are awesome,” Austin said.

For a lot of these boys, it is their first time being selected to the all-star team. Gambari said that is a big factor in their team, and they must stay focused despite the nervousness that may arise.

With only a few days until the tourney, Gambari said now is the time to see what his boys are made of.

“At this point, I think overall, with only two weeks time, we’re about as ready as we can be,” Gambari said.

“We will be tested.”

Players like Brady Gambari, Jeff’s son, said he only sees the finish line ahead, and will do anything to cross it first.

“I want to win every game so we can go to the championship,” Brady said.

The Natchez All-Star coach-pitch team will play at 2 p.m. Saturday at Keystone Park in Brookhaven.