Minors’ sub-district tourney begins

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 30, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Here on the eve of the sub-district tournament with the city all-star championship replaying in his mind, Tom Middleton likes his Rebel League squad.

That loss in two games of the best-of-three series to the Confederate League seems like months ago. The Rebel League has improved significantly since then, and today it will get a chance to show it when the tournament begins at 6 p.m. today at Ballew-Bowlin Field.

The Rebel League will open with Franklin County. The Confederate League will follow against Pine Hills at 8 p.m.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;I think they’ve come together this week,&uot; Middleton said. &uot;They’ve made up their minds they want to play. We didn’t have a good practice Monday, but ever since then it’s been real good. The defense has looked good, and they’ve really hit the ball. That’s what it’s going to take.&uot;

The Rebel League is the underdog of sorts going into this tournament in the face of the Confederate League, who took both games in the city series but had to fight in the second game to pull it off.

The Confederate League tuned up Tuesday against Vidalia to prepare for the wrap-around tournament that will end Tuesday.

&uot;Our defense is getting better and better and better,&uot; Confederate head coach Al Hall said. &uot;We’re coming together as a team. We’ve got a lot of heart, and we’ve got kids who can play ball. And the faster you pitch, the harder they hit it. They like the fast pitching.&uot;

In these tournaments it’s often who hits the ball the best, and the Confederate League is hoping to put the ball in play as well as it did in the first game of the series opener.

Both teams have put the hours in this week at the plate &045; often 90 minutes at a time &045; in hopes of staying consistent at the plate.

&uot;We’re still hitting the ball well,&uot; Hall said. &uot;Everybody puts the ball in play somewhere, and we’re still having very few strikeouts. If they’re not getting on first, they’re at least moving runners around the bases. And I haven’t seen anybody have a better defense than we have.&uot;

The bats may be the X factor for the Rebel League &045; although its pitching and defense is strong. But now that the chemistry is better, the bats should follow suit.

&uot;We made the comment last night that they may have finally jelled,&uot; Middleton said. &uot;It took these guys a little while longer to learn to work together. That’s the hard part. That’s the intangible part you have the least amount of control over &045; the team chemistry.

The Rebel League will go with Brandon Sanders and Tyler Morrison as its top starters, while the Confederate League has a twist in its staff with two left-handed starters &045; Trevor Williams and Ryan Goddard.

Williams started Game 1 of the city series and threw well, and both will get action on the mound early.

&uot;They both have a good fastball and a good changeup,&uot; Hall said. &uot;Those left-handed pitchers are a little harder to hit because kids don’t see much of them. And their gloves on the mound &045; it’s hard to get anything by them.&uot;