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Playing with purpose

On Friday, the Troy Junior Dixie Boys made the over four hour trek to Scottsboro for the State Tournament.

Today, the team will look to make the long drive worth as it begins play today at 5 p.m.

The last time the team was on the field against an opponent was over a week ago, when it took out Enterprise in back-to-back games to claim the District championship.

Now, the level competition rising the further Troy goes, head coach Gary Fox said he hopes his team is able to step up to the plate and deliver.

“My biggest expectation for this tournament is that the team continues to play their best,” Fox said. “We dedicated this tournament season to the military and they always give their best for this country and we are able to enjoy our freedom as a result.

“If there is a situation where we find ourselves facing adversity, hopefully we won’t quit and we will fight back,” the coach added.

Since that game, the team has been hard at work at practice, however, according to Fox, the team has been ready to play someone other than themselves.

“They are fired up and excited about playing (in state),” the coach said.

“We have had good practices all week, but I think the guys are really anxious to get out there.”

The coach mentioned that during batting practice, competition amongst the players would take place for who could hit the most balls or who could hit the farthest.

That was a welcomed site to Fox.

“It is always good to keep that competitive spirit up.

“But these kids really do get along well with one another. They all know each other and that has made a big difference when we play in tournaments,” the coach said.

Practice has not been the only place the players and coaches have met at either.

Last week, the entire team took a trip down to Blue Springs after a short practice and just this past Tuesday, the team gathered at Fox’s house to watch the MLB All-Star Game.

“I was talking to the other coaches about how great it is to have a team so close together,” Fox said.

“That kind of chemistry is definitely something that I think gives us an advantage over most other teams.”

That advantage is going to come into use for the team as the level of play will only get better, according to Fox.

“I expect the teams (at state) to be good,” Fox said.

“It’s down to just seven teams (in Alabama) and we are going to have to play as good as I know we can play – the competition is going to be really tough the next couple of days.”

Before the team hit the road Friday morning, it got some inspiration from a man who knows a thing or two about baseball.

Charles Henderson baseball head coach Derek Irons met with the team to talk about some of the things it would have to do if it wanted to come home with another trophy.

Irons brought up for key points in his speech to the team: put fourth a good effort, play with focus, execute and have a sense of urgency.

“Those four things are really going to be what it comes down to,” Fox said

“If we do those things, and do them right, we will be successful.”