T.M. Jennings All-Stars gearing up for state finals in Biloxi

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 2, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Their bags are packed and they&8217;re ready to go.

The T.M. Jennings Natchez 13- and 14-year-old All-Stars will begin play tonight in the Senior League state tournament in Biloxi, and they are itching to hit the playing field.

&8220;I&8217;m ready to get on the mound,&8221; said Javon Washington, a member of the Natchez team.

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The All-Stars received their uniforms Thursday night, and there was plenty of excitement in the air as they got ready to make the trip.

Dan Smith, president of the T.M. Jennings Senior League and coach of the All-Stars, said he felt he had done a very good job in his first year at the helm.

&8220;I definitely feel like I picked the best 12 in the league &8212; at least in this age group,&8221; he said. &8220;We&8217;ve got a really strong team. I think our strongest areas are going to be our pitching and our speed.&8221;

Not only experience, but the sheer volume of playing baseball could be an issue for the Natchez team, Smith said.

&8220;One of the weaknesses I see that we have is that a lot of these boys play a lot of sports,&8221; he said. &8220;They only play baseball in the summer, and in this era you have to play year-round to be effective a lot of times.&8221;

One player who wasn&8217;t worried about experience was Codie Barber.

&8220;This is my second time being an All-Star with the Senior League,&8221; Barber said. &8220;I&8217;m a little bit more confident heading in this time.&8221;

Confidence is something Natchez will need, according to Smith, because the other two state competitors will be tough.

&8220;I don&8217;t know a whole lot about them, but I&8217;ve heard they&8217;re both good,&8221; he said. &8220;They might be better than us in some ways. We&8217;ll have to work harder.&8221;

The All-Stars will open play tonight against Medcalf at 8