The whirlwind summer for the Troy Pre-Minors will continue today when the team departs for the Dixie Youth AA regional in North Charleston, SC.
Troy held its final practice in Troy Wednesday night, and head coach Andy Blair said the team is ready to play.
“It has been a great stretch of practice because we’ve had a full week and a half to get ready,” Blair said. “I would say we’re exactly where we need to be.”
The team has been idle since its July 13 state championship win over Enterprise, and Blair said the team may be an even better unit than it was 10 days ago.
“Things have been looking really well for us,” Blair said. “I would say the kids have gotten better in this short amount of time than they did getting ready for state, so we’re just going to hope they keep getting better and keep improving.”
Part of the challenge for the Troy coaching staff has been continuously motivating a younger group of players. Each player is eight years old.
“We’ve mixed it up some with them to try and let them have a little fun,” Blair said. “We want to keep them interested, so we’ve let them play some six-on-six mini-scrimmages and things like that, so they’ve been having a good time.”
While the coaching staff has done its part to keep the daily practices fun, they have been assisted by what Blair called “an outstanding group of parents.”
“We have a great group of parents that have done stuff like bring ice cream out to the fields, so they’ve done a great job of trying to have fun with this whole thing,” Blair said. “But, the coaches have been having a lot of fun with this group as well. This is our summer vacation just like it is theirs, and we’re excited to be out here with them.”
However, once the team takes the field Friday in South Carolina, it will be down to business against an increased level of competition.
“You always expect the competition level to be better as you go along,” Blair said.
“There’s no luck involved in getting this far. Every team here deserves to be here. Every team is going to be good, and every game is going to be close.”
For Troy, the formula for winning will remain as simple as it has throughout the team’s magical tournament season run.
“We just want to be able to hit the ball like we’ve done all summer long,” Blair said. “Then, if our defense comes in an plays like it has, we’ll be all right.”
If Wednesday’s final practice is any indication, Blair said that winning formula could be in full effect this weekend.
“I told them that would be the last time they practiced baseball in Alabama as 8-year-olds,” Blair said. “But, they’re ready to go. They’ll have one more practice there in South Carolina, but I think they could play now if they needed to.”
But, while the team may have been ready to play in Blair’s estimation, that didn’t stop him from giving the team just a little more time with the pitching machine.
“We took a lot of batting practice because you can never get enough hitting in,” Blair said.