- Last Updated on 12:22 PM 04/23/12
- BY Doug Ford
The South Boston Dixie Baseball Pre-Majors all-stars are on a roll entering the World Series starting tomorrow in Independence, Louisiana, courtesy of a five-game jaunt to the Virginia state title recently.
“We had a good run, and the boys swung the bats,” said manager Kenny New.
“That was the key. I think we had 72 hits for the tournament, and we had a .428 batting average over the five games, all wins.”
“The boys played well, and defensively we were very good with a small number of errors,” continued New, who was also complimentary of his pitching rotation during the state tournament.
“The boys played solid defensive baseball, and the pitching worked really good,” added New. “We don’t have any stoppers as far as our pitching staff, but they all went out there and did surprisingly well and kept the bats for the other teams from doing much at all against us.”
A combination of effective pitching and hitting helped bring another state title home, according to New.
“The biggest thing that surprised us was that the pitching was effective as it was, and all the starters batted over .380,” he pointed out.
“Nick Lewis was one of the guys we depended on, and Chase Wilkerson, Hunter Watts, Tyler Wall were the guys we rode pitching-wise through the state tournament.
“We used Ryan Yates and Jacob New a couple of innings each, but the others were our mainstays on the mound.”
All but two members of the team, J.T. Reeves and C.G. Wagstaff, have World Series experience, and New hopes that experience will pay dividends in Independence, starting with the Saturday opener against Tennessee.
“The boys should be a little more relaxed, and I think nerves are always a factor when you play in a tournament like this, so I think their being there before will help us, ” New said.
Another key element to a good run at the World Series is pitching depth, and New said his team is blessed with a number of good pitchers.
“We used basically four pitchers in the state, but we’ve got 10 who can pitch, guys who can go out and throw, and I’m not hesitant to use any of the 10,” said a confident New.
“I think we have a fairly good chance of staying in there and winning some ball games, and the key is pitching at a high level, swinging the bats, and winning that first game for confidence the rest of the series.”
Not only did the South Boston Pre-Majors all-stars win the state tournament, they also garnered the prestigious Sportsmanship Award, a double honor that doesn’t usually happen.
Receiving the Sportsmanship Award came as no surprise to New.
“There are a bunch of good kids on this team with extremely good attitudes,” he said.
“Everybody gets along, and we don’t have any problems with discipline. These are as good a group of kids as I’ve ever coached.
“We won the state title as well as the Sportsmanship Award, and what more can you ask for.”
Except for a World Series championship, he hinted.