T-ball all-stars playing for high seed

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, June 28, 2016

With all four of the four teams in the Dixie Youth T-ball district tournament advancing to the state tournament, coaches could, theoretically, rest easy and coast through district play and on to the big stage.

Concordia T-ball coach Trey Keith said that is not the case with his squad.

“As far as us going to state, if we get first and possibly runner-up it helps our seeding for state, so we plan on winning the tournament,” Keith said. “That’s always our goal.”

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His 5- and 6-year-old all-stars took the fields at Vidalia Lower Elementary School Tuesday afternoon trying to squeeze in an afternoon practice before Thursday’s round robin tournament.

A handful of players were on the field before practice started, independently playing catch and hitting off a tee, without much prompting from their coach.

“Most days we practice for an hour and a half for three days a week,” Keith said. “They’re focused in and I rarely have to correct any of them … It’s a good group of kids. They’re very mature for 5 and 6 years old. ”

Keith said that focus pays dividends in the currency of sound defense.

“(Defense) is what we’ve worked the hardest on,” Keith said. “We’re trying to get outs.”

Other than taking infield and drilling players on where to throw on a particular play, Keith said his team simulates game situations with base runners.

“We’re treating practice like games,” Keith said. “Sometimes we use base runners and I’ll hit to the kids and sometimes we just let the kids hit and run like a game. That’s probably why we’ve been so successful.”

Keith said the work his team does in simulated games has also made it effective on the basepaths.

“We work very hard on our base running at the end of every practice,” Keith said. “We have signs for stop, go, halfway. It’s really important. From day one, we wanted to be good at running bases.”

Concordia’s first game is 6 p.m. Thursday at Concordia Rec District No. 3 Complex. All four teams in the tournament will play each other in a round robin format. The tournament will conclude Saturday.