Natchez cruises to victory in state tourney opener
Published 12:33 am Saturday, July 25, 2009
HATTIESBURG — The Natchez 10-year-old All-Star team was caught looking past its first game at last year’s Dixie Youth State Tournament, and coach Gary Farmer was determined it wasn’t going to happen again.
One year after seeing its state championship hopes derailed by Cleveland in the opening game of the state tournament, Natchez came out strong this year in a 13-4 win over Indianola.
“I absolutely reminded them about last year,” Farmer said. “We definitely learned last year not to overlook the first game, and to take them one at a time. We weren’t overlooking the first game this year.”
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One game after being shut out by Hattiesburg in the finals of the south state tournament, the Natchez bats came to life.
Natchez pounded out 12 hits, with six of those going for extra bases.
“We came out hitting the ball and scoring runs,” Farmer said. “The kids got fired up and that was the key. We got back-to-back hits instead of hitting in spurts. I’ve said many times that they can hit the ball very well, and sometimes, they do.”
Natchez scored four runs in the top of the second inning to take a 4-0 lead over the North State champion and then put the game away with five runs in the top of the fourth.
Dalvion Jackson smashed a two-run homer and also hit a double for Natchez.
Craig Bradley, Jacob Jenkins and Sam Parker also had doubles while Gabe Smith added a triple in the winning effort.
Jenkins was the winning pitcher, striking out eight Indianola batters in four innings of work.
Natchez plays two games today in the round-robin tournament.
Natchez faces South State champion Hattiesburg at 10 a.m. and then plays North State runner-up Philadelphia at 6 p.m.
If Natchez wins both of those games, they will be the state champion.
If two teams both have one loss after tomorrow, they will play at 3 p.m. Sunday for the state championship.
Farmer said his team is looking forward to playing a Hattiesburg team that beat them twice in the south state tournament.
“They really want to play Hattiesburg (this) morning,” Farmer said. “They’ll be fired up and ready to go. The key to winning is to jump on them early and never look back. If we can get a little pressure on them, I think they’ll fold.”
Both of Natchez’s games can be heard on 107.1 The River.