Rayborn developing talent in young Natchez baseball players

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 24, 2010

NATCHEZ — Even though the Advance Sports Braves only started using Chris Rayborn’s facilities less than a year ago, their hard work is already paying dividends.

Rayborn, who owns Advance Sports, coached the 8-and-under Braves in the Louisiana USSSA fall baseball league, in which the Braves finished second in the state.

The Braves followed that up with an appearance in the Mississippi USSSA state tournament Nov. 13 and 14 in McComb, where they finished runner-up to Hattiesburg.

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“We were up by five runs going into the last inning, then they scored seven and ended up winning by two,” Rayborn said.

But even with a second-place finish, Rayborn said he was pleased with how far the kids he’s coaching have come in their development as baseball players.

“We’ve only had (our facility) open for less than a year,” he said. “These other teams have been around for four to five years.

“It’s all about developing chemistry. It’s not just about talent, you have to have you role players as well as your star players.”

That’s something Rayborn said he tries to instill in his players, and something he keeps in mind when selecting his fall ball teams.

“If you have nine egos that think they’re the best, you won’t get anything done,” Rayborn said. “You also can’t let your emotions get to you. If you can’t get used to adversity, it’s not your game.”

The fall was a productive time for the players, Rayborn said, and he was impressed with the amount of dedication by the children that wanted to become better at baseball.

“Considering that it’s the fall, and you have kids with talent wanting to play year round, that’s the thing you can’t beat,” Rayborn said.

“I love the kids, and they all work hard. Every Wednesday and Thursday night, and Saturday morning, we’ll have our practices and maybe have one or two kids not show up.”

And it’s important for these children to get as many at-bats as they can, he said.

“These Dixie Youth games, they have 15 games a year, and the kids gets maybe two at-bats a game,” he said. “That’s not enough to develop them for the future.”

Having strong parental support is also important, Rayborn said, and he wanted to thank the parents for being involved.

“I couldn’t do it without the parents,” he said. “We also had great support from Sports Center and our sponsors, and I want to thank them too.”

In hopes of raising funds for future teams, Rayborn said he’s putting on a jambalaya sale in Natchez and Vidalia Dec. 3 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

“They’ll get jambalaya, bread and a desert,” he said.

For now, Rayborn is happy his players have accomplished so much in less than a year.

“This has taken off a lot faster than I thought,” Rayborn said. “I thought we’d be down in the summer because of football, but these kids showed they wanted to work with it.”