Dixie Majors open sub-district play

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 17, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; It’s not like the Natchez Major League All-Stars don’t get along.

It’s just having to watch each other take infield and their cuts at the plate for one more practice might drive them mental.

That’s why the matchup with Franklin County at the sub-district tournament in Port Gibson at 6 p.m. today couldn’t come faster than a freight train.

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&uot;We’ve been practicing with each other for two weeks now,&uot; Natchez Majors head coach Alan Dossett said. &uot;We’re ready for the real thing. The kids have been playing against each other in the league all year. We’re getting bored.&uot;

The long layoff, which has included six practice games against the likes of Jena and each of the Brookhaven teams, is due in part to small numbers that forced the Natchez Majors dressing out one team, as opposed to the typical two.

However, despite the losses of 12-year-olds such as Preston Edwards, an odds-on all-star favorite before a broken ankle caused him to miss the summer, and Eric Dollar, another viable candidate who moved away, Dossett believes the product on the field will turn heads beginning today.

&uot;It didn’t hamper us; if anything it helped us I think,&uot; he said of the diminutive rosters. &uot;We’ve got some great players on this team, who are 11. We just need some of them to step up.&uot;

One of whom is Cody Floyd. Floyd gets the nod in today’s opener.

&uot;He’s pitched real well for us. He throws the hardest of any of my pitchers,&uot; Dossett said of Floyd. &uot;He’s got good control, and has thrown a lot of scoreless innings for us this year.&uot;

Perhaps unique to most all-star teams that pride itself on busting the stitches off the baseball, the Natchez Majors go deep with its pitching rotation.

If Floyd stumbles from the home-plate umpire’s ‘Play Ball,’ there are three seasoned 12-year-olds capable of assuming the load in Gary Brown, Daniel Jenkins and Jordan Dossett, who is the only returning all-star from one of last year’s two teams.

&uot;I think our pitching will keep us in it this weekend,&uot; Alan Dossett said. &uot;You always want to win the first one. But if we lose (today), we have the ability to come back on the strength of our arms.&uot;

Behind Floyd and the hat trick of 12s is an 11-year-old duo in Aaron White and Collin Dollar, with Ryan Comer, 12, likely to see some time aboard the hill as well.

The bats have been a bit of a roller coaster through scrimmage play, but are climbing up the tracks at the right time, Dossett said.

&uot;It seems teams always have one or two facets of the game that are behind the others,&uot; he noted. &uot;Our pitching is great; we’re solid in the field; however, you got to hit the ball to score and win games.&uot;

Aggressiveness and intellect are other ingredients for the Natchez Majors’ success.

You’ll see a lot more station-to-station &uot;small ball&uot; from Dossett’s squad than overpowering &uot;gorilla ball,&uot; where baseballs need their own time zone.

&uot;We’ve got some good athletes on this team,&uot; Dossett said. &uot;Every opportunity we get we’ll stretch a single into a double. We’ve got a lot of speed.&uot;

However, none of that means Natchez Major All-Stars will get cheated at the plate. Dossett expects each team, including today’s opponent Franklin County, to have at least one hurler throwing in the upper 60s.

But with fireballers, such as Floyd and others, it is nothing the Natchez team has not seen.

&uot;We think we can get around on that,&uot; Dossett said. &uot;We like our chances in Port Gibson this weekend. We’ve been working hard on our hitting.&uot;

For each of these all-stars, but more so the grizzled, pre-teen veterans who are 12, the game of baseball will change immensely within a year.

Soon enough, speed and maturity drastically change the talent pool from boys to young men. The sense of urgency can easily be felt.

&uot;We want to represent Natchez in the best way we can,&uot; Dossett said. &uot;I played on this team; (assistant coach) Mike (Lazarus) played on this team; (assistant coach) Regan (White) played on this team. Playing for Natchez means something.&uot;