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City of Troy honors state champs

The City of Troy honored the Troy Americans, Alabama's Dixie Minors state champion, with a celebratory dinner Tuesday night after practice at Park Memorial United Methodist Church.

Steaks, chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs and plenty of sides were spread out for players, coaches, their families and guests.

"The City of Troy has done a good job making these kids feel special," Americans coach David Dickey said.

Parks and Recreation Director Dan Smith had the players sign 16 team photos and baseballs as mementos for every coach and player.

"I signed my name 46 times," Taytom Barnes said, flexing his hand between baseballs.

It likely was the first autograph experience for the players, some of whom practiced their signatures on the plastic tablecloths.

"We can't do too much to honor a state championship team," Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said. "This group is going on to the World Series. I was talking with the coaches and they said their toughest competition may have been the other Troy team. That speaks volumes about the level of play in our leagues."

Council members Charlie "Sarge" Dunn and Jason Reeves also attended the dinner.

"I'm just proud of 'em," Dunn said. "They've done a fine job and we're sure they will continue to represent Troy well. I'm enjoying this fine meal, too."

Reeves said he was excited for Dickey and coaches Mike LeCroy and Ken LaBrant.

"I played ball with David," he said. "I hit third and he hit fourth. Believe me, I saw some good pitches to hit because he could really play. He's a good man. Mike and Ken and David have done a good job with these guys. We're giving them a celebration and a sendoff for the World Series at the same time."

Dickey said the team put together a good practice Tuesday night at Franklin Field - after the first 20 minutes or so.

"We got rained out on Monday night and had the weekend off before that," he said. "We started a little slow. So we lined 'em up and ran 'em. Once we got the rust knocked off it went OK. In fact, we hit the ball real well tonight."

Staying sharp offensively is one of the big challenges tournament teams face between events, Dickey said.

"We really try to get them each to swing 100 times a day," he said. "Hitting is such a key to the game. Like in the Clanton game (a 9-8 Troy victory), we matched them run for run."

The team travels to Auburn for the World Series opening ceremonies on Sunday. The Americans' first game is Monday night at 7:30 p.m. against Georgia.