Local traveling baseball team off to a dominating start
Published 12:28 am Sunday, May 25, 2008
NATCHEZ — If domination is the game, Anteaters is the name.
The local U-14 Anteaters travel baseball team has opened their season on a tear and it may have something to do with their name.
Coach Matt Mason said the boys chose the unique name after the University of California-Irvine’s team that made a run in last year’s College World Series.
Email newsletter signup
“They were pretty dead-set on being the Anteaters,” Mason said. “Sometimes we’ll go to a tournament and there will be two teams with the same name.
“They don’t have to worry about that.”
Although the season is fairly young, the local Anteaters have been dominating on the diamond just like their west coast namesake did a year ago.
They’ve been so dominant, in fact, that they’ve already been bumped up a level.
“It’s been a good little team,” Mason said. “We started out playing in AA, and have had some success so we’re moving up to AAA.”
Mason said they started in AA to see how the team’s talent stacked up against the competition and that he’s pleased the team is getting promoted to AAA.
“(Being promoted) is good — you want to play the same quality teams,” Mason said. “I feel we’ll do well. The pitching will be a bit better — we’ve been hitting the ball well.”
They’ve been hitting the ball really well, actually.
Through three tournaments —which the team has won — Mason said the team is averaging 12 runs a game while only giving up two.
Mason said the purpose of the Anteaters is to help give the kids as much playing experience as possible.
“We put this team together so these young guys could play a lot of baseball games and get out and have some fun,” Mason said. “They’re going to get to play quality baseball and a lot of baseball. Baseball is a game of repetition — the more you play the better you get.
THE MAKING OF A CHAMPION
The U-14 Anteaters are a team of nine players comprised from Trinity, Cathedral, ACCS and Natchez High students.
“When I started it, I wanted to get as many Trinity kids (that are) in the age group and started calling around,” said Mason, who is also the Trinity baseball coach.
To fill the rest of their team, Mason just began calling around.
“We were looking for kids we knew would get along with everyone,” Mason said.
Although the team is comprised of just enough kids to field a team, Mason said he’s not overly worried about the possibility of injuries or the players getting tired.
“We practice just one day a week, so we’re not concerned with burning them out,” Mason said.
TRAVEL TRAVEL TRAVEL
As is the case with most travel teams, the Anteaters do a lot of traveling.
Mason said the team will participate in 10 to 12 tournaments, equaling 90 to 100 games.
The team is also planning to be a part of two World Series tournaments, which are a week long and are comprised of 80 to 100 teams.
Currently, the team is considering World Series tournaments in Kansas City and Florida.
“It’s a lot of fun. The kids get to get out of town and meet a lot of kids and play a lot of quality baseball,” Mason said.
“We’ll talk with the kids. We let the kids have a little input on where we play,” Mason said. “We want the kids to have as much fun as possible.”
Although Mason said it’s fairly easy to find tournaments to be a part of — just look them up online — he said the closest probable tournament for the Anteaters in relation to Natchez will be in Vicksburg.
Due to Natchez and Vidalia not having baseball complexes, the Anteaters are forced to hit the road every weekend to find competition. Without a complex, the cities are unable to host tournaments, which Mason said could bring in a lot of money.
“There’s always talk of (building a complex) around election time,” Mason said. “Hopefully after this year’s mayor’s race we’ll see some of it come to fruition.”