Dixie Boys All-Stars move across town to prep for tourney

Published 9:20 pm Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Usually when a team gets the bid to host a recreation league district tournament, it gets to host on its home field.

However, that isn’t the case for the Troy Dixie Youth 14-year-old team.

Troy was selected as the site of the District Tournament earlier in the year, and with 10 teams entered, Sam Kitchens Field on South Franklin Drive has been traded out for the Troy Sportsplex.

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The Sportsplex features a half dozen softball fields, most of which have been transformed in to baseball diamonds, complete with newly built mounds.

However, the teams will face one drastic change: dirt infields.

In order to get some experience on the dirt, and a small edge on the other teams, Troy head coach Jonathan Earles moved his team’s practices to the Sportsplex this week.

“The ball will play quite a bit faster off the dirt,” Earles said. “I watched the Dixie Softball World Series last year, and they played it on a baseball field with a grass infield. It definitely changed the way the game was played. We wanted to at least get a little work in over here, so we could have some experience with how the ball hops and rolls.”

While line drives and hard grounders will reach the infielders faster, bunts are an entirely different story.

Earles recounted another recent softball game where a strange bunt play ensued.

“The ball hit right in front of the plate and just spun in one spot,” Earles said. “The pitcher and catcher stood there looking at it, and the entire time runners are moving. If a bunt hits a deep patch of sand, it can sit down and stop. That is something else we have to me mindful of.”

In 2013, the district tournament consisted of only two teams, Troy and Dothan.

Dothan was picked as the host site, forcing Troy to travel over an hour. Once Troy made it to the park, the team was greeted by a thunderstorm and was forced to wait in their cars for almost 90 minutes.

Earles said that wouldn’t be an issue this go-around.

“I like the fact that weather delays won’t be a problem for us,” Earles said. “If we have weather or lightning, we can go to the house, and not have to wait it out in the car or under a shed. We can go relax and not get stiff during if there is bad weather.”

The 14-year-old team is made up of players from across the area and includes players that played for Charles Henderson, Pike Liberal Arts, Goshen and even two players from Highland Home.

Earles feels the team has plenty of talent, and looks forward to the tournament.

“This team has probably some of the best hitters in the league,” Earles said. “This is just a great group of kids. They are all coachable and want to be here and learn. We are ready to get this tournament going.”

The District Tournament gets underway Monday July 7 at the Troy Sportsplex and features 10 teams from across the southeastern portion of Alabama.

Troy will meet Cottonwood in the first round at 8 p.m. Monday night, while Ashford, Headland, Enterprise, Taylor-Rehobeth, Luverne, Ozark, Greenville and Dothan will all be in action on the opening day.

The first games of the first round are slated to begin at 4 p.m.