T.M. Jennings teams prepare for state

Published 12:01 am Thursday, July 21, 2011

NATCHEZ — Both T.M. Jennings Little League All-Star teams are just two wins away from bringing home state championships this summer.

The 9- and 10-year-old team and the 11- and 12-year-old team will head to D’Iberville Friday morning to start play in separate three-game series to determine the state champion. Both teams’ opponents have yet to be determined.

Both teams have been hard at work this week preparing for the state final.

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“We’re doing the same thing as we did during the season and focusing on fundamentals,” 9s and 10s coach Osmon Perkins said. “We focus on fundamentals in everything our kids are doing.

“They are a very athletic team, and as long as we stay on the same page we’ll be alright.”

Deselle Davis, coach of the 11s and 12s, said the two T.M. Jennings teams have been scrimmaging against each other a lot this week.

“We scrimmage the 9s and 10s to practice against live pitching,” he said. “It gives them game experience.”

Perkins said the scrimmages really help his team because his players get to go against players that are older and more physically developed than any team they will play in the tournament.

“(The scrimmages) are good because it helps them because the 9s and 10s are good, possibly as good as some of the teams they played,” Perkins said. “And it’s excellent for us, because we get to see another level of talent that our players have never seen.”

Davis said former Natchez High player Brian Isaac will be coming to work with the pitchers today. Isaac has already helped the team prepare earlier in the tournament.

Both coaches said they are very proud of their teams for making it this far.

“It feels real good (to make it this far) considering most people thought we didn’t have much talent,” Perkins said. “We only had two teams (during the regular season), but there was a lot of talent between those two teams. I’m real proud.”

Davis said he is impressed with his teams’ ability to advance despite being a younger team.

“Words can’t explain how proud I am,” he said. “We have a different group (this year), most of them are young and this is their first year. We have nine kids that didn’t play at this age level in All-Stars last year. For them to play this well says a whole lot about them.”

Travez Lyles is a 12-year-old pitcher, catcher and first-baseman, and he is one of the leaders of the squad.

“I show them what to do, and if they mess up I tell them what to do, and how they can do it better,” Lyles said about being a team captain.

Lyles said his team made it to this point last season but lost in the state final, and he hopes to avenge that loss this season.

“I’m proud of the chance to play and win state,” he said. “I’m very excited to get started.”

Both coaches said the players are dealing well with the heat at practice, mainly because they are anxious to start the series.

“They have a real will to win, they hate to lose,” Perkins said. “I tell them if they play hard they will get good results. If they give me all they got, that will be good enough, and they have bought in.”

The coaches said they are going down to D’Iberville focused on winning the state title.

“We expect to win, anything less is less than what we expected,” Davis said.

“I expect us to go down and give them everything we can, and to be honest I hope to bring a state championship banner and hang it up (at T.M. Jennings field),” Perkins said.

Both teams will play game one of their series at 6 p.m. Friday.