Troy 14 year olds are D-Boys elite

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 22, 2000

Sports Editor

There’s little doubt what the overall goal for Troy’s 14-year-old Dixie Boys Tournament Team is this tournament season – win it all.

They have the talent in place and feed off the strength of a squad that knows each other and plays with each other very well. Most of the kids have competed on the tournament level for a number of years together and this year many feel they should be the team to beat state wide.

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"I really believe we should go all the way," Dixie Boys head coach Butch VanHorn said. "I keep telling them, with the amount of talent we have on this team, the only people that can beat them is themselves."

VanHorn, who led his Troy Dixie Boys Cardinals to the League Championship this year and received the right to coach the Tournament Team, is also father of Pete VanHorn who could be seen as the team’s biggest pitching threat.

The younger VanHorn mowed them down all season in the Dixie Boys league pitching shutout after shutout. Add his arm to the likes of other standouts like Blake Phelps, LaKory Daniels, Tyson Pugh and Elijah Daniel and you have a very solid group of young players.

Most of the team has also had the chance to compete on the high school level as well. While they will all be Freshmen next year and more than likely play out roles on their respective varsity squads next year.

VanHorn feels that all that experience on the junior varsity and varsity squads has made all the difference in the youngsters’ knowledge and confidence in the game.

"These boys have played junior varsity and varsity ball last year and have been getting some valuable high school experience," VanHorn said. "They are bigger and stronger because of it and better overall after seeing such competition. Anytime you set the level of competition up it brings out that talent and at this level it’s really no different than JV ball."

Another thing those watching will notice is the athletic ability of the group. While possessing a lot of skill at the different key positions such as pitching fielding and batting, these group has their legs too. They can motor around the bases and their size is definitely not a down side.

"This group and the 14-year-old group from last year are two special groups of kids," he added. "I’ve taken tournament teams from Troy to state and district and it always seemed like our kids were the smallest. This year you won’t see a bigger of more athletic team out there."

VanHorn says that his infield is really no different than that of the Charles Henderson High School Junior Varsity squad of 2000. Add a pair of players that played for Pike County and a couple from Pike Liberal Arts and you have a lethal combination of experience and skill enough to take on any team in the upcoming tournaments.

The team will face off against the host team Elba in the Sub-District Tournament Saturday in the final game of the day at 8 p.m. It is a four-team tournament with the winner advancing to the district meet in Geneva starting on July 7.