Natchez 14s begin play Saturday

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 20, 2000

The Natchez 14-year-old Dixie Boys All-Stars are heading into the state tournament in Summit with no idea about the level of competition that will be there, but they are planning to stay for a while.

Natchez, which allowed only four runs in three games in the district tournament, opens tournament play at 3:45 p.m. Saturday against East Central.

Natchez coach Willie Riley knows the state tournament won’t be that easy. &uot;I&160;don’t know anything about any of the teams, except what I’ve heard from other people who’ve heard, but we are preparing for good pitching, because once you get into the larger tournaments, the level of pitching competition only gets stronger,&uot; Riley said.

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Riley said Douglas Davis, who broke a bone in his pitching arm earlier this year, should be ready to play.

&uot;We were kind of hesitant to do so, but the doctors gave him the OK, and he’s been throwing in practice some, and looking good and reporting no pain, so we’re fortunate to have him back,&uot; he said.

Riley said one reason he believes his team has a good chance is the attitude they bring to the field.

&uot;Each and every one of these kids come out to the ballpark wanting to get better,&uot;&160;Riley said. &uot;All the ballplayers have the desire to make sure they do everything right.&uot;

Riley said the fact that the team is mostly made up of veterans of state tournaments will help.

&uot;It’s definitely an asset to us that a lot of the boys have been in state tournaments before,&uot; he said.

Riley said his team’s hitting, pitching and defense all seem to be primed and ready for tournament play.

&uot;Our hitting is not missing a beat, and we’re going to have more pitching, and our defense is so versatile that it’s hard to find a weakness, and I&160;think it’s a combination of those three things that will help us get through this tournament,&uot; Riley said.

The Natchez 13-year-old all-stars begin state tournament play Sunday in Laurel.