National team stays home, American heads to Luverne

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 6, 2001

Sports Editor

The Troy Dixie Youth National team opens sub-district play in Troy tonight at the Sportsplex against Abbeville at 8 p.m. Their counterparts, the Troy Americans, head about 20 miles up the road to Luverne for their shot at a sub-district title.

Both teams have spent a majority of the past few weeks playing practice games in preparation for tonight’s tournaments. The Troy American team will open against Luverne, a team Troy National beat in two practice games earlier, 9-4 and 10-2.

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"Maybe that’s a good sign for the Troy American team," said National’s head coach Mark Motes.

But American head coach David Sunday said he expects for tonight’s game to be tough one.

"It’s a beautiful field they have over there," he said. "But it’s hard to come out of Luverne with a win."

Sunday expects to field a "very good defensive" team that features three veteran pitchers. Taylor Sunday, Blake Sanders and Dario Wilson will shoulder much of the load pitching for Troy American.

"We’ve got some good pitchers that throw a lot of strikes," he said. "But we’re going to have to be able to score runs and help them out. We want to put the ball in play and get runners on base, because we’re a very fast baseball team."

Sunday said the players have been practicing hard, but he and his coaching staff have also allowed them a chance to have some fun.

"We’ve had a pizza and a pool party, went to the movies, and cooked out together," he said. "These kids have been playing together for a long time, so they’re comfortable around each other."

Motes has also had no problem in getting his players to come together as a unit.

"It took them about a week, but we’ve gelled together," he said. "But what I’m looking to see is how many of them will react during a game. With 13 players on roster, starting off, you’re not going to be able to play all of them. I’m hoping the ones that don’t get playing time to begin with will be supportive of the ones that do. I’m optimistic about our chances."

Unlike Sunday, Motes has four pitchers he feels comfortable with come game time, including Casey Weston, Chad Jordan, Jacob Halse and Greg Lee. Since Dixie Youth rules only allows a pitcher to pitch 13 innings in a tournament, Motes said managing a pitchers innings revolves around what the game situation dictates.

"A lot of coaches like to go by the 2-2-2 rule, meaning one pitcher pitches two innings, followed by a second and then a third," he said. "If a player throws one pitch in the third inning then he’s not allowed to pitch in the next game."

Sunday said if one of his three pitchers is pitching good, he’ll allow them to pitch the full six innings.

"That said, we’ve got some younger players that are able to come in and throw strikes and get us out of some jams," he said.