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Tournament teams head to state

It is an exciting time of the year in recreation sports, as the time for state tournaments has arrived.

Four Troy tournament teams are still alive in the hunt for a state title, with one of those teams playing for something more than just a trophy and pride.

The Pre-Minor tournament team will play in the first round of its state tournament tonight in Athens, but the team is still focused on the same goal it has had since the beginning of tournament play.

“They’re still focused on that goal of raising as much money as they can for Miracle Field,” said head coach Frank Scarbrough.

For every hit recorded by the Pre-Minor team, a certain amount of money will be donated to the Troy Miracle Field fund. Each player is sponsored and the team has three business sponsors who will donate $1 per team hit at the end of the team’s tournament run.

The fundraising effort has been extremely successful thus far.

“We were doing a rough guesstimate last week and it was over $700 last week with team and individual sponsors,” Scarbrough said. “If they can duplicate their performance up in Athens, which they’re fully confident they can do, that could double what we’ve already raised.”

While the team is excited about raising money for Miracle Field, it is also excited about being the first Pre-Minor team from Troy to play for a state title.

“It feels pretty exciting that we finally get to travel to Athens and play in the state tournament for the first time,” said Colby Williams, a player on the team. “I’m looking forward to just having fun and playing ball and hopefully winning.”

One of Williams’ teammates echoed those sentiments.

“I’m real excited,” said Tristen Carter. “All I can think about is winning.”

While the desire to win does drive the team, the boys are also looking forward to just enjoying the experience of traveling to the state tournament.

“I’m just ready to get on the bus and have fun,” Carter said. “It’s going to be fun going on the trip and getting to stay in the hotel and everything.”

Although the team is looking forward to enjoying itself, Scarbrough said his team is also filled with a desire to bring home a state title.

“They feel like they’ve got as good a chance as anybody,” Scarbrough said. “They’re excited about having the opportunity to be the first team in this division to play for a state title. They’re just fired up.”

The Pre-Minor team isn’t the only team fired up about state, however.

Dixie Belles head coach Steve Finlayson said his team is also looking forward to playing for a championship.

“I can tell they’re really excited to go play at state,” Finlayson said. “We’ve practiced for two weeks now and I can tell that’s taken a toll on them. Practice can be boring if you practice for too long without actually playing anybody. I’m glad we’re leaving for state now because I could tell they were starting to lose their focus a little bit.”

While the Belles’ focus may have begun to waiver, Finlayson said his team would be ready.

“I think that they’re ready,” Finlayson said. “They’ve got to be.”

Finlayson attributed part of his team’s preparation to the close games it had to play in the district tournament. “Our sub-district was pretty easy, but our competition sure stiffened up at district,” Finlayson said. “I was kind of afraid of over-confidence setting in, but that district tournament taught us a lot of things.”

The Belles aren’t the only team that will try to take lessons out of a district tournament win.

The Dixie Boys tournament team will head to Eufaula today after breezing through last week’s district tournament in Troy.

While the Dixie Boys blew away all of their opponents at district, head coach Britt Newman saw plenty of room for improvement. “We are going to have to step up our game if we want to do well at state,” Newman said. “We’ve got to improve at hitting the ball and I think we’ve got to improve a little bit defensively as well.”

One advantage for the team will be a first-round bye that it drew. “I think that bye helps us with our pitching,” Newman said. “If we’re fortunate enough to make it to Monday or Tuesday, I think we’ll be better off than the other teams will because we won’t have played as many games and we’ll have more pitching to use.”

The Junior Dixie Boys are also making a state championship run, beginning at 6 p.m. against Westside in Dothan today. Head coach Sam Kitchens said his team is ready. “Right now, they seem to be focused on the task at hand.”

“They want to play well and go down there and try to represent Troy well. They’re confident they can play well and they should be able to perform well.”

Kitchens said he hopes the team will carry aspects of its performance at district over to state.

Both the Pre-Minors and the Belles will play at 7 p.m. today with the Pre-Minors taking on Thomasville in Athens and the Belles playing Underwood in Hartselle.

The Dixie Boys will not open play in Eufaula until Saturday, when they play the winner of today’s game between Westside and Selma at 5:30 p.m.