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Dixie Boys team endures a marathon to reach final stage

If anything, the Halifax County Dixie Boys all-star team should be mentally tough as it travels to Beaufort, South Carolina for the Dixie Baseball Boys World Series, considering what it endured at the recent state tournament in Christiansburg.

Halifax County finished with a 7-2 record in the state tournament and came out on top against 20 other teams in an event that took almost a week to complete.

“It was tough,” admitted manager Dale Link.  “We had one day off up there where we had to spend the whole day in a motel with the boys, and we had to find something for them to do.”

“It seemed our backs were up against the wall the whole tournament, but we worked our way through it,” added Link, who noted all three phases of the game were solid at the state tourney.

“Our defense was great, our sticks came around and our pitching really paid off,” said Link, who was not surprised at how the team played in Christiansburg.

“I practiced with the boys the past couple of weeks, and I knew we would be hard to beat, so it was exactly what I was expecting.”

Halifax County avenged an earlier loss to defeat Grayson County in one of two brackets, and it took on New River Valley in a best two-of-three series for the state title.

A little strategy came into play in the championship series, where Halifax County used its depth in pitching to outlast New River Valley in three games.

“We lost the first one, but we “strategized” our pitching and stayed tough in the game without burning our pitchers up,” explained Link.  “They burned their pitchers up trying to beat us, and the next two games were kind of a breeze.

“Between me and my coaches, we decided everything.  I have two really good coaches in Mark Cole and Zach Clem who help me out making decisions.”

Pitching will be a big key to a good run in the World Series for his team, which includes about seven players with at least one World Series appearance, Link noted.

“Our pitching will be key to a good run in the World Series, but our sticks will be also,” he explained.

“I think we’ll be good on both ends of that.  We have six great pitchers, and our defense stands behind them really well.  They don’t make a lot of errors or mistakes.

“For about seven guys, this is their second World Series, so we’ve had a little bit of experience.

“The older boys have been good leaders throughout this whole state tournament, and I’m looking for that to carry over into the World Series.”

Link expects more tough games in Beaufort, beginning with a 7 p.m. game tomorrow against the host team.

“I know if we win the first game, we may face Georgia or South Carolina, and South Carolina hasn’t lost a game in World Series appearances since they were about 12- or 13-years-old.

“If we face them we know we have our work cut out for us.”

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