Confidence, experience guided Natchez team to World Series title run

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 19, 2001

Two words stick out in Cole Bradford’s mind.

&uot;North Carolina.&uot;

Even though it happened more than 10 days ago, Bradford and his teammates still think about the Mississippi All-Stars’ 10-6 loss to the North Carolina All-Stars in the semifinal game of the Dixie Boys World Series. The loss left Mississippi with a third place trophy.

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But the Natchez boys don’t hold their heads too low, even though the words &uot;North Carolina&uot; linger in the heads. The team is anxious to get back to the World Series as 14-year olds – for the third straight year – and win it all. Last year, the team finished in fourth place.

&uot;Last year we were just glad to be there. Last year our goal was to win state,&uot; said coach Tim Foster. &uot;Third place out of 12 states ain’t bad. They’ve done something no other team from Natchez has done.&uot;

The members of the team were: Bradford, Micheal Chatman, Wesley Davis, Benji Maher, Timmy Foster, Corey Walker, Drew David, Chris Seeger, Clay Floyd, C.J. Wright, Will Johnson, and David New III. Helping Foster coach were Jeff Maher and David New Jr.

The road to the World Series was one the team thought it could dominate. After taking the state title last year, the players said they knew they were the team to beat. District play against teams from Brookhaven, Copiah and Summit were almost a formality.

&uot;I thought we could go through those games real easy,&uot; said Micheal Chatman.

The team’s confidence forced the coaches to settle the team down. &uot;They were looking way ahead. We had to keep them going one game at a time,&uot; Foster said.

Foster was only concerned about Summit, as the district was held on their field. But Natchez swept through the district play, crushing the three other teams.

&uot;We had to get as many runs as we could get. That way it wouldn’t be any close games,&uot; Foster said.

Natchez also thought it could sweep through the state tournament. But it knew it had made some enemies along last year’s road to the title. Timmy Foster set a state championship record against Moss Point in the 2000 tournament by striking out 16 of 18 batters. Moss Point wasn’t bashful about who they really wanted to play.

&uot;They said they wanted the big boy that set the record,&uot; Timmy Foster said.

Natchez minded its own business and won all its games. Moss Point went three and out. Natchez claimed the state title with five 10-run victories.

&uot;We just hit the ball really good,&uot; said Bradford.

&uot;We didn’t know on defense because we knew they’d be hitting games,&uot; Foster said.

The club thought its experience from last year’s World Series would carry them through to the finals this year.

&uot;Last year, we didn’t know how far we’d go,&uot; said Corey Walker. &uot;I think we were the best team (this year).&uot;

It looked that way in the first two games. Mississippi destroyed Virginia 18-0 in its first game. Then it beat Texas – a team Foster said many expected to win it all – in the second game, 12-2.

But the team was no-hit by North Carolina in its next game, sending it to the loser’s bracket. Natchez rebounded by pounding Tennessee 12-0, earning it a rematch with North Carolina.

Mississippi was leading North Carolina 6-2 in that game. But Carolina chipped away at the lead, cutting it to 6-4 as it entered the top of the seventh. Carolina tallied six runs to win the game 10-6.

The loss was disappointing, no doubt. But it has already made the team look forward to next season.

&uot;I’m ready to see how much better we get,&uot; Timmy Foster said.