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No problems getting acquainted for Natchez 11- and 12-year-olds

Natchez Dixie Youth 11- and 12-year-old All-Stars starting pitcher Andrew Merriett delivers a pitch to Pine Hills batter Colton Womack during an exhibition game Tuesday at Duncan Park. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)
Natchez Dixie Youth 11- and 12-year-old All-Stars starting pitcher Andrew Merriett delivers a pitch to Pine Hills batter Colton Womack during an exhibition game Tuesday at Duncan Park. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — They may be made up of players from several different teams, but the ll- and 12-year-old Natchez Dixie Youth All-Stars haven’t had any difficulty getting acquianted.

All-Star teams from all over the state have been utilizing their few weeks together to get ready for the district tournament, but while those teams try to transform from opponents to teammates, most of the Natchez Dixie Youth All-Stars have been playing together for six years.

Twelve-year-old Andrew Merriett said he has made the All-Star team for six straight years, and he said he still gets excited every time.

“It feels good to be selected,” he said. “It makes me feel like I’m a good player.”

When it comes to his teammates, he said they have all been friends for a long time, and they already know each other’s tendencies.

“We’ve been playing together on the All-Star team since coach-pitch league,” Merriett said.

With that advantage, Natchez All-Stars head coach Brynson Rogers said he is confident that his team will be successful by the end of the district tournament. Though they have much experience together, practice will always be key.

The Natchez all-stars will play against the Franklin County All-Stars in the district tournament at 6 p.m. Friday in Gloster.

“We’ve had about 12 to 15 practices so far to prepare,” Rogers said. “I think we’re coming together really well. We keep a positive attitude, and I think we’ll have a pretty good season.”

On Tuesday, the Natchez All-Stars played their fourth practice game in preparation of the tournament against the Pine Hill All-Stars.

Rogers said they’re sharpening their strengths and steadily improving on their weaknesses.

“I think we have a solid defense and our pitching is really good,” Rogers said. “But we have to hit the ball better, w need more players on the bases.”

Rogers said that those were the main things his team must work on to make it to the state tournament in Hattiesburg.

From the player’s point of view, Merriett said he is confident in the team as well.

“I think we ‘re going to have the best year we’ve ever had,” Merriett said. “The team has improved so much over the years we’ve played together.”

On a big stage like the state tournament, Rogers said that they can’t rely on just a few people to get there.

“We’re a team, I don’t like to single anybody out,” he said. “It’s not just one person, everybody needs to step up.”