Natchez pitchers let the defense rest

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 8, 2000

There’s a rumor that the Natchez Wallace All-Star 11-12 team has an outstanding defense.

However, an outstanding pitching staff keeps that a well-kept secret.

Natchez hopes that talented staff can continue its dominating ways at the Dixie Youth 11-12 World Series in Marshall, Texas, beginning next week.

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Natchez, wearing the Mississippi jerseys next week, opens tournament play Monday against Columbia County of Georgia.

Through 11 games in the sub-district, district and state tournament, Natchez pitchers struck out 131 batters over 60 innings.

In the state tournament, Timmy Foster struck out state record 16 batters in a 2-0 win over Moss Point on the second night.

Corey Walker then fanned 13 batters in an 8-1 win over Clarksdale before Benji Maher whiffed 12 in an 11-0 win over Yazoo City.

Foster then struck out 12 in a 7-2 win over Laurel for the state championship.

&uot;Our goal was to go undefeated through the tournament,&uot; said the 12-year-old Foster.

The 5-foot-10 Foster used his fastball and curveball effectively throughout the tournament.

&uot;I was just trying to make good pitches,&uot; he said. &uot;When you get a strikeout it gives you more confidence.&uot;

The 5-foot-11 Maher said he just goes out and tries to throw strikes.

&uot;We’ve got real good fielders, so I know if the other team hits it, they’ll catch it,&uot; he said.

Walker, 12, may not have seemed as intimidating at 5-5, but he was just as overbearing.

&uot;I&160;like to throw the ball at the corners,&uot; Walker said. &uot;But I’ll throw it wherever the umpire is calling it.&uot;

Walker said it helps having Foster and Maher on the team.

&uot;No one pitcher is carrying the load,&uot;&160;he said. &uot;You are able to relax more when you know you have someone like Timmy and Benji behind you ready to come in.&uot;

Most of the members of the 11-12 all-star team were on the squad which finished second last year in the Dixie Youth 9-10 State Tournament, falling to Clarksdale twice in 3-2 contests.

After losing to McComb in the early rounds last year in the 11-12 tournament, Natchez fought back its way to the finals, beating McComb once fore seeing a 9-4 lead turn into a 13-9 loss.

&uot;I thought there’s always next year,&uot; Maher said. &uot;It would have been very disappointing not to have won it this year.&uot;

Maher knows the strikeout count may go down at the next level.

&uot;It’s going to be tougher because we’ll be facing more disciplined batters,&uot; he said. &uot;We’ll just try and hit the corners and see if they chase anything. We just have to focus more.&uot;