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Let the games begin

Of the 15 Troy tournament teams, all have competed for a title, with the exception of one.

But that is about to change.

After seven weeks of practices and exhibition games, this weekend will mark the beginning of the Troy Dixie-Minor American team’s quest to win a championship.

And the team will look to do so in its own backyard at the Troy Sportsplex in the State Tournament, which begins on Saturday.

“The team has looked really good,” head coach Frank Scarbrough said Thursday afternoon.

“They are ready to get on the field and play for something. They are not overly anxious but they seem to be really focused on what they have to do.”

Both the coach and the players ran into a unique situation with the seven-week time period between the team being formed and playing in its first tournament.

During that stretch of time, Scarbrough said the team participated in everything from team scrimmages to family nights to water gun fights in an effort to keep things fresh.

The team has also got a bit of a taste of tournament action thanks to the 12 exhibition games Troy has been apart of.

And while those games may not have counted towards anything, the result was almost always in Troy’s favor, as it finished with an 11-1 record.

“Not sure what that says about us,” Scarbrough said.

“When the (state) tournament starts, everything starts over for us – and the kids know that.

“The biggest thing for us is to make sure that the kids are mentally prepared (for the tournament,” the coach added.

Part of that process has taken place with the exhibition games the team has played.

The last two games, which took place this pasted Tuesday, were against Dothan’s Dixie-Minor team.

And with two victories, Scarbrough said he thinks his team is ready for the what’s to come on Saturday.

“We have just been trying to get the kids to work hard and to keep their focus,” he said. “And they have done a good job of that, so far.”

“Playing other teams in scrimmages has allowed our guys to recognize other team’s mistakes and take advantage of them. And that is something that is going to make the difference in this tournament a lot of the time.”

A big part of the preparation process was not the time spent on the field, but the time spent off.

The team took a week off at the beginning of July, which was something that Scarbrough described as ‘critical for the team.’

“Everyone got to get away for a little bit and I think that was something that helped everyone.

“Once we got back together (about two weeks ago) we have been practicing and focusing really hard on getting better,” he said.

Troy’s focus is going to have to be ready to go when it walks into state according to the coach, who said he expects the level of competition during the tournament play to be very high.

“We know that the pitching is going to be strong, the defense and the hitting is going to be good and the base running is going to be aggressive,” Scarbrough said. “But we have seen this all summer long with the teams that we have played.”

“These kids are really confident, and I don’t expect anything to change between now and the tournament,” the coach added.

Troy will get started against Hartselle in the first round of the tournament, at 8 p.m. Saturday night.

At state, there will be a 11 other teams along with Troy including: Taylor American, Underwood, Monroe County, Spanish Fort, Dothan Southern, Bellingrath and White Plains.

All games will begin Saturday and run through Thursday, July 29.