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Pair ready to play in sixth consecutive state tournament

Drew Link and Ethan Woltz will reach a baseball milestone when the South Boston Dixie Boys all-star team begins play Friday in the annual Dixie Boys State Tournament in Christiansburg. When the first pitch is hurled to the plate this weekend, it will mark the sixth consecutive year the two players will have participated in a Dixie Baseball state tournament.

Both Link and Woltz played in state tournaments two years in the Dixie Youth Baseball AAA League (Minor League) and two years in the Dixie Youth Baseball Major League, all as a member of the Halifax County South all-star teams.

Last season, the pair played for the South Boston all-star team in the Dixie Junior Boys State Tournament. On Friday, they will begin playing for the South Boston Dixie Boys all-star team.

“I look at it as a big accomplishment,” Link said.

“I never had any idea that I would get a chance to play in this many state tournaments.”

Woltz echoed that sentiment.

“It’s a big accomplishment,” he pointed out, “my biggest in baseball. It’s special to have an opportunity to play in this many state tournaments.”

Link and Woltz have played on teams that have been successful. The pair have been a part of one state championship team, that being last year’s South Boston Dixie Junior Boys all-star team, and they made a trip to the World Series.

On four occasions, the team they played for finished as the state runner-up.

Link, who plays shortstop and pitches, and Woltz, who plays catcher, third base and left field, acknowledge there is a certain level of pressure playing in a state tournament.

“I’m a little nervous the first couple of innings,” Woltz admitted. “After that, it’s just like any other game.”

“I look at it as just another game,” Link pointed out.

“I know that if I go in nervous I won’t play as hard or play as well.”

The two players know what it is like to face the pressure on the field. They also say that playing in state tournaments is fun.

“It’s the atmosphere and the intensity that I like,” Link remarked.

“There are a lot of people there.”

For Woltz, the fun part is the people.

“I like getting to play and meeting new people,” Woltz pointed out.

“It’s fun to meet players from other counties. I’ve made a lot of friends from other counties that I still stay in touch with.”

Not only is this year’s Dixie Boys State Tournament important as a milestone for the two players, this may also be their last opportunity to play in a state tournament and possibly, a World Series.

“We want to win this tournament really bad,” Link pointed out.

“We want to make this year count. We’ve come so close to winning it so many times.

“We want to win the tournament and make it to the World Series one more time before we can’t do it anymore,” added Woltz.

“Both of us play travel ball, and because of the rules, we can’t play (in the Dixie Pre-Majors or Dixie Majors) next year. This is our last chance. We want to make the most of it.”