13’s await tourney
Sam Kitchens has been doing this a long time.
Kitchens, a Troy native, has been coaching youth baseball since 1975 and been involved as either an assistant or head coach of a Troy tournament baseball team since 1983.
"It’s been enjoyable and I’ve had fun," said Kitchens.
This year, Kitchens heads the Troy Dixie Boys 13-year-old team on Friday as they open the sub-district tournament at the Troy Sportsplex against Elba.
Tournament teams for all Troy youth league teams were named last week, so Kitchens has had only a short amount of time to get his squad prepared for its first game. A good portion of Wednesday’s practice was spent working the infielders and outfielders. Kitchens has also made sure to schedule a few practice game sessions against some quality competition out of Montgomery.
Last year, these same group of youngsters were playing Dixie Youth, but Kitchens feels his team has adjusted well to playing Dixie Boys baseball. They all have went through a regular season playing by Dixie Boys rules and are familiar with the larger fields and greater pitching distance.
"Overall, I feel everyone’s come along just fine," said Kitchens. "This is a pretty good group and it appears to be a solid hitting group just from some of the practices and practice games we’ve been having. Right now, pitching’s my only real concern."
Kitchens said he would likely start Chad Jordan on the mound against Elba Friday night. Troy plays at 6 p.m. with the Luverne-Greenville game to follow.
Foster Styron and Tobias Lee should also see pitching time also during the tournament.
Kitchens said he likes the idea of having to go through sub-district play. Troy played host to the district tournament last season, but was eliminated by Enterprise, a team that also advanced to the World Series.
While hosting district has its advantages, the big disadvantage, said Kitchens, is "missing out on the competition."
"I feel if you’re good enough to win sub-district, you’re good enough to win it all," he said.
One things for certain: Troy’s crowd should be loud and vocal come the opening pitch on Friday night.
"We’ve got some lively and energetic parents supporting this team. They’re rambunctious. I’d call them an umpire’s worst nightmare," Kitchens joked.
Members of the 13-year-old team are: Foster Styron, Chad Jordan, Tanner Hensley, Tobias Lee, Chase Avant, Seth Copeland, Daniel Farrar, Taylor Sunday, Quentine Thomas, Mason Thompkins, Blake Sanders and Zach Campbell.
Tomorrow: The Messenger will take a look at the Troy 14-year-old squad as they prepare for sub-district action as well.