Troy Blue streaking past the opposition

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 4, 2002

Sports Editor

Following the Troy Parks and Recreation Department’s regular baseball season, a few of the city’s youngest players got left out of the mix. There were tournament teams for ages nine and up, but nothing for the boys who had played Pre-Minor and Farm League baseball.

Enter the Troy Blue 7-and-8 year-old traveling team.

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"We’ve never had anything like this for this age group," said Troy Blue head coach Russ Harris. "I got with some of the parents after the season and the parents thought it was a good idea."

Troy has played in three tournaments thus far this summer, finishing third in their first tourney in Hartford.

But since then, they have won 10 straight games, including four in Troy and six in Dothan’s Simply the Best Tournament last weekend.

"I think that first tournament they were so nervous," said Harris about his team. "They had the jitters, because we had only had up to three practices at that point in time. But the next two weekends, they just settled down and started playing baseball."

The tournaments are both coach-pitched and pitching machine. Harris said his team has "no problem adjusting to either."

Troy’s 10-game winning streak is impressive, especially considering that those wins came against teams from Birmingham, Georgia and Dothan, among other places. Most of these cities have been fielding 7-and-8-year-old traveling teams for years.

"Some of these teams have been playing together all summer long," added Harris.

Troy Blue was the only team at last weekend’s tournament to advance through the weekend without a loss.

Their play hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Larry Winkle, one of Simply The Best’s directors, approached Harris following a game.

"He told me that this was the best eight-year-old team he had ever seen," recalled Harris.

Having a team that participates in city tournaments at this early of an age also bodes well for Troy’s baseball future.

"These kids have learned so much about baseball this summer," said Harris. "They’ve learned from their mistakes. Next year, some of these kids will probably be on a Dixie Minor tournament team and they won’t worry about playing tournament ball because they’ll have already done it."

Harris is assisted by his father, Russell Harris, and Ashley Floyd. Russell Harris played Triple AAA baseball with the St. Louis Cardinals’ organization, but an injury to his arm brought a halt to his career, just when he was about move up into the Major Leagues.

Now, Harris said his father just loves to be out on the baseball field coaching his grandson, Dalton.

"He’s 70-years-old and absolutely loves it," said Harris. "And as early as I can remember Dalton has had a ball in his hand. He lives on the baseball field."

Troy Blue is scheduled to play in an eight-year-old tournament in Alex City next weekend.