Troy Dixie O-Zone team ready to host state tourney

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, July 4, 2013

Most of the tournament teams from Troy are gearing up to the hit the road for their respective state tournaments, but the Troy Dixie O-Zone baseball team is right at home. Literally.

Troy will host the 2013 Dixie O-Zone Alabama State Tournament at the Troy Sportsplex July 19-25. Being the host team, Troy has not had to play any Sub-District or District Tournaments in order to qualify, but has played a couple of exhibition games to get the competitive juices flowing.

Outside of the games, head coach Chris Huner said the team has used practices to go over situational defense and some of the finer points of the game.

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“The longer practice time has allowed us to work on some small ball stuff,” Huner said. “Things like bunting, bunt defense, run downs, pick-off moves and other things that can get looked over on short turnarounds. But at the same time, the players get tired of the same thing over and over, so we have mixed in a few games along the way.”

By hosting the tournament, Troy gets the advantage of playing in their hometown, just minutes away from the Sportsplex. However, the team will not be playing on their home field.

The O-Zone age division plays its regular season games at the Back Field on South Franklin Drive. The tournament games will be played at the Troy Sportsplex on Enzor Road.

The biggest difference in the two facilities is the infield. At Franklin the infield is grass, and the surface at the Sportsplex is dirt.

Huner said that the team will move practices to the Sportsplex soon in order to get used to the new surface.

“We have been waiting n the district tournaments to wrap up at the Sportsplex before we move over there,” said Huner. “The guys at the rec. department have been gracious enough to build us a mound. We want to know everything there is to know about that field. We want to know where the ball bounces if it gets passed the catcher or an overthrow at first. We will be strictly dirt from here out.”

Above the bleachers at Franklin park sit two billboards recognizing the accomplishments of past teams. Huner feels that if his team can stay focused over all five days of play, it can add a third to the hillside.

“We need to be focused in every aspect of the game,” said Huner. “Playing at home can be a bit of a distraction at times. With friends and relatives here, the kids sometimes put more pressure on themselves. But if we can stay calm, throw strikes, battle at the plate and avoid the big inning on defense and have the big inning on offense, we should be ok.”

The Dixie O-Zone Alabama State Tournament kicks off on Friday July 19 with opening ceremonies and games begin Saturday. July 20.