17U Purple Sox set sights on state tourney this weekend in West Monroe

Published 12:01 am Friday, July 14, 2017

Greg Naquin used to be worried, but that has since changed.

Over the last few years, Naquin — coach of the Dixie Pre-Majors Purple Sox — has seen the Vidalia-based league grow into a group he is rather pleased with.

The Purple Sox will have the chance to display their talents this weekend, traveling to West Monroe, La. for the 17-and-under state tournament.

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“When I first started this league, we used to go down there and lose two games right off,” Naquin said. “Now, we’ve put Vidalia on the map and are going there as one of the favorites. More kids started coming into our league, and we started playing a little bit. We had more to choose from, and I’m not going in there scared anymore.”

With a clear sense of poise, Naquin said he is eager to see how his team compares to the 11 other teams in the double-elimination tournament.

The Purple Sox received a first game bye, and will take the field for its first game at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

“(The bye) will give us a break not having to play so early,” Naquin said. “I’ve always been confident that if we can win the first two games, then we have a shot. I’m kind of laid back in the league, but I’m excited to go to this tournament every year. I think we are ready to play.”

Naquin said he thinks the key to winning will be strong defense, and he has plenty of resources to help him. He said Vidalia High School’s Tristan Weatherly is likely to start on the mound, with Adams County Christian School’s Jacob McDaniel right behind.

The Purple Sox also have acces to the arms of Natchez High School’s Jatavis Melton and Delta Charter School’s Drake Smith, among others.

“We have seven or eight pitchers,” Naquin said. “I’ll put them up against anybody. They can all compete, and that always helps. If we play defense, I think we will be in the game. All we have to do then is get us a few runs.”

Naquin also said his squad will lean on its positivity.

“I don’t have anybody who thinks they are better than anyone else,” he said. “If they aren’t playing, they know why. I never hear any bickering, and they know what they are supposed to be doing.”

After practicing recently with the 19-and-under Purple Sox, Naquin said his team should be prepared for anything, while remaining on its toes.

“I think we will hit the ball a little better against the competition we have,” he said. “We still have to maintain focus on one game at a time.”