Local all-star team heads to state tournament with range of players

Published 12:01 am Thursday, July 13, 2017

Matthew Freeman has a problem, but it might be everyone else’s problem, too.

With a team of 12 players from just about every corner of the Miss-Lou, Freeman — coach of the Dixie Majors Purple Sox — struggles leaving a single one on the bench.

“It’s a really good group of kids,” he said. “The hardest part is deciding who to play and when to use them in which situations. They all know how good each person is on the team, and they all want to win.”

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The Purple Sox will travel this weekend to the 19-and-under state championship in West Monroe and are set to face the Bastrop Barons in its first game at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.

It’s no wonder Freeman has a difficult time choosing a lineup from his talent pool. His players range from sophomore in high school — Adam County Christian School’s Jack Whitehead — to sophomore in college — former Jefferson County High School and current Copiah-Lincoln pitcher Christian Day.

Freeman said he will rely on Day as his ace, yet isn’t worried about relief behind him.

“We have some really good quality pitchers to go with him,” he said. “A lot of teams have three or four, but I feel confident that we have quality (pitchers.) They will be able to put us in a situation to win.”

Among other members, the Purple Sox will also utilize Delta State University freshman and former Monterey High School star Jake Barlow at shortstop.

“I’m expecting the older and more mature guys to know what to do. They have the right attitude and can approach the team,” Freeman said. “It speaks highly that they are even interested to come out and play. They really love the game of baseball.”
The Purple Sox will face seven other teams in a double elimination format and will play again Saturday night with a win in its first game.

Though Freeman said he doesn’t know much about the other teams, he is sure his squad will give it everything it has.

“I’m sure there will be good competition. None of us will just run away with it,” he said. “I think we have a really good chance. It’s not that difficult to coach a team of all-stars like this. I just kick back and watch them do what they love to do.”