Natchez tee ballers like to keep score

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, July 2, 2013

NATCHEZ — Five-year-old Tristan Fondren wasn’t too fond of the Natchez Dixie Youth tee ball league always ending in a tie during his first two seasons of playing.

Now, the Natchez Dixie Youth tee ball All-Star team member has already had a full season of competitive tee ball under his belt. And with the sub-district tournament coming to Natchez Friday, Fondren will have a few more chances to rack up some wins.

“I didn’t like it (before),” Fondren said. “They didn’t keep score, and if you don’t keep score, you’ll probably tie, and the games aren’t fun. If you tie, it seems like you kind of lose.”

Hayden Beasley, 6, hauls in a baseball during fly ball drills during a teeball practice at Duncan Park on Monday evening. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)

Hayden Beasley, 6, hauls in a baseball during fly ball drills during a teeball practice at Duncan Park on Monday evening. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)

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The tee ball all-stars took to the field Monday evening at Duncan Park to get ready for the upcoming sub-district tournament. Head coach John C. Sullivan said he was pleased with the league’s decision to switch to competitive tee ball this past spring.

“By feedback and popular demand, this is what people wanted to move to,” Sullivan said. “It teaches them an awareness of the game that they weren’t learning in non-competitive ball.”

Parents pushed for competitive tee ball, and assistant coach Shane French said what they got was a more exciting experience watching their son.

“It was the most boring thing ever, and now it’s the most exciting it’s ever been,” French said. “It gets everyone involved, including the parents.”

And adopting competitive tee ball meant that children ages 4-6 would have the chance to play on an all-star team for the first time as tee ballers.

“It’s a good opportunity for them,” Sullivan said. “It gives them some exposure they wouldn’t have gotten for another three years.”

Assistant coach Ryan Marchbanks said playing competitive ball allows players to learn what to do in certain situations. Before, it didn’t matter who was on base, since no one kept score, Marchbanks said.

“It teaches them the game, and it teaches the rules of baseball to a 5-year-old,” he said.

Sillivan also said there’s a certain awareness that players pick up when wins and losses are on the line.

“That’s what they weren’t learning in non-competitive play, and it’s what they are learning now,” Sullivan said.

When the tee ball all-stars head into sub-district play Friday, they’ll be going against teams will a little bit more all-star experience, Sullivan said.

“I expect it to be good competition,” he said. “They have some good teams coming in that have played competitive tee ball a little bit longer than us.”

Landon French, 6, said the coaches have told him the other teams are bigger than his.

“I know they’ll be really good teams,” Landon French said. “We’re going to have to practice really hard.”

The tee ball all-stars will play at 8 p.m. Friday in the third game of the tournament.