State champions return home

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 4, 2000

Jerry David coached two Natchez All-Star teams to Babe Ruth state championships in the early 1980s.

But neither can compare to what David experienced this past week. Jerry’s son, Drew David, was part of the Natchez Wallace 11-12 All-Star squad which captured the state championship Thursday in Laurel.

&uot;I’m more happy for him than I was when we won it,&uot; Jerry said.

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David was part of the sheriff/police-led caravan which returned to Natchez Thursday for a small celebration at Duncan Park, where it all started with the city championship series last month.

Vehicles decorated with signs reading the team motto of &uot;I Believe&uot; were welcomed by an enthusiastic crowd as smiling players rode in with proud, but tired coaches and parents, eager to set foot back on home turf.

After cruising through district, the Wallace League went unbeaten at state, defeating Laurel 7-2 Thursday for the state title.

The Natchez team will face a team from Georgia Aug. 14 in Marshall, Texas, in a Dixie Youth World Series opening game.

&uot;That was really satisfying,&uot; Natchez coach David New Jr. said of the state title. &uot;I have been fooling with Dixie Youth and Dixie Boys baseball for 15 years and to be able to finally win a state tournament tickles me to death. I’m very excited for all of the players.&uot;

Natchez’s 11-12 All-Stars won state in 1993 and played three games in the World Series at West Monroe, La.

&uot;I’m expecting you guys to play as many as it takes,&uot; longtime Natchez Dixie Youth commissioner Clarence Bowlin told the gathering.

Natchez defeated West Lauderdale 8-7 in its first game as Chris Seeger got the game-winning single in the sixth inning.

&uot;I was nervous,&uot; Seeger said of the situation. &uot;I thought it was going foul, I was real happy when it was fair.&uot;

Timmy Foster set the state record for strikeouts by fanning 16 in a 2-0 win against West Point on the second night.

Natchez remained unbeaten Tuesday with an 8-1 win over Clarksdale as Corey Walker struck out 13 batters.

Clarksdale handed Natchez its only two losses in the 9-10 state tournament two years ago. Both games were 3-2 games

Benji Maher struck out 12 batters as Natchez blanked Yazoo City 11-0 to advance to the finals.

&uot;I just went with my fastball,&uot; Maher said. &uot;Some nights it was on and some nights it was off.&uot;

Maher said Natchez’s quick-scoring offense helped a lot when he was on the mound.

&uot;When we got the lead I was able to relax more,&uot; he said.

Foster added 12 more strikeouts Thursday in the championship game.

&uot;I was going with a fastball and curve,&uot;&160;Foster said. &uot;I didn’t expect to get that many strikeouts, but I was more confident as the games went on.&uot;

David Alton New III had two doubles and caught a line drive and turned it into a double play to stop a Laurel rally in the third inning.

&uot;I just wanted to get an out,&uot; New said.

New scored Natchez’s first run in the first inning after his one-out double. New advanced to third on the hit on an error. He scored on a single by Maher.

&uot;I can hit fast pitching well and he (John Randall Moore) just threw a straight fastball,&uot; New said.

Since beginning play in the sub-district tournament, Natchez Wallace has outscored its opponents 86-15.

&uot;I really felt we could win it before we started state play,&uot; New said. &uot;I felt we were as good as any team in the (9-10) state tournament two years ago.&uot;

New said Laurel was picking up Natchez’s pitching signals in the first inning.

&uot;Tim Foster (Timmy’s father) was calling the pitches, so we switched up and had Jeff (Maher) and Tim give signals and they couldn’t tell who was giving the correct signal,&uot; New said.

The Natchez team stayed in a motel for almost a week.

&uot;That was tough,&uot; New said. &uot;These were good boys, but at this age they are real active. It’s tough being cooped up in a motel. The parents really helped out a lot. We had a lot of support.&160;The coaches had to have the boys ready to play, but the off time the parents took over and did a great job.&uot;

Natchez pitchers Foster, Maher and Corey Walker combined for 66 strikeouts over five games.

&uot;I’ve never had a team with three pitchers like that, that’s really hard to come by,&uot; New said. &uot;Nobody in the tournament had three pitchers that strong. We would go back to the motel and people would ask us how many pitchers did we have.&uot;

Natchez assistant coach Jeff Maher said the title run was a true team effort.

&uot;Every kid contibuted,&uot; Maher said. &uot;One night it would be one with a big hit and another night someone else came though.&uot;

New said Natchez will begin practicing for the World Series Monday at 5:30 p.m. The team will leave for Marshall on Aug. 13.