Head to head

Published 9:14 pm Friday, July 30, 2010

The moment has finally arrived and now, it is time to play ball.

Today, the Junior Dixie Boys will begin play in the World Series in Dothan and look to finish what it started over two months ago, with the hopes of holding up the final trophy.

During the two prior tournaments, Troy has lost just one game – to Enterprise in the first round of the District Tournament in Eufaula.

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Since then, Troy has been undefeated, including winning all four of its games in the State Tournament in Scottsboro.

“This is a team that I don’t have to really worry about,” head coach Gary Fox said earlier in the week during practice. “They know what they have to do.

“They know when they can be relaxed and when they have to tighten the screws and get down to business – I think I am going to be more nervous than they are when (the tournament) begins,” Fox said.

Now, Troy will focus on the new task at hand.

Troy’s first opponent will be a familiar one, as the team will take on the host team right off the bat.

Unlike Troy, Dothan has played in just one travel tournament so far this season, which took place in Enterprise.

Outside of the tournament, the team has played a handful of practice games.

Regardless of the amount of games Dothan has played this summer, Fox knows what kind of a team Troy will be up against.

“I know (head coach) Tracy Battles and I know he always fields a good ball team in Dothan.

“A lot of the kids on the Troy team have played the kids on the Dothan team for years now and I have never seen not have a very good team,” the coach said.

Part of what makes the Dothan teams so ‘fundamentally sound’ as Fox said is their ability to play solid defense and hit the ball well.

Since Dothan is the host team, it gets the automatic bye to the World Series round, passing over the Sub-District, District, and State Tournaments.

And while some may think that Dothan is in a disadvantage because of this, the team’s experience at this level in the tournament season speaks for itself.

Seven of the 13 players on the Dothan team have played in the Dixie O-Zone World Series the past two seasons.

As it did before venturing up to Scottsboro, the team had a guest speaker talk before the team left for Dothan.

This time around Troy University baseball coach, Mark Smartt spoke to the team about what to expect in the coming days.

“He knows a little something about baseball,” Fox said with a laugh.

“Coach Smartt has been around the game a lot in during his life and for him to be able to share his experiences with the kids and let the kids pick his brain is going to be very helpful.”

The two teams will kick off their respective World Series runs today at 7 p.m. at the Dothan Miracle League Complex.