STATE CHAMPS: Troy O-Zone team beats Decatur American 4-0, named Alabama Dixie Youth State Champs
Published 3:00 am Friday, July 24, 2015
Parents, grandparents, siblings and fellow coaches lined the drive at the Troy Recreation Center Thursday evening to welcome home the 2015 Alabama Dixie Youth Baseball O-Zone State Champions.
After a long, hot week of baseball the O-Zone team walked away champions after defeating Decatur American 4-0 and will participate in the World Series starting Aug. 7 in Lexington S.C.
From their one loss in the tournament to Tuscumbia, Troy battled through the loser’s bracket and came out on top.
“I didn’t see it until we lost, but when we lost you could tell the determination in a lot of the players,” said O-Zone head coach David Nelson. “We saw the determination in them that said we weren’t going home. It didn’t matter what we had to do we were going to do whatever it took to get to the end.”
After Troy defeated Gordo to begin the tournament, they matched up with Tuscumbia and dropped their lone game of the tournament forcing them to come through the loser’s bracket for a chance to come out champions.
Troy did that starting with their next game against Piedmont.
“They really showed what they were made of that next day by winning two games,” Nelson said. “They continued everyday after that to show up and play Troy baseball and win.”
After defeating Piedmont, they faced Thomasville in their second game of the day.
Troy then went on to play Opelika and Selma Red before getting the opportunity to play Decatur American in the championship game.
Troy went on to beat Decatur American thanks in large part to a balanced offensive attack that was present throughout the tournament.
So balanced in fact that an umpire told coach Nelson he had a hard time distinguishing the top of his lineup with the bottom of the lineup.
“That’s what separates us from everybody else,” Nelson said. “No matter who steps to the plate for us, we fully expect them to get on base for us.”
Pitching and defense usually separates the championship team from the rest, Nelson and the O-Zone team worked hard on that all summer, and it paid off for them this last week.
“There was one game where we struggled with defense, and we lost that game,” Nelson said. “We pitched good and threw strikes, but we made five errors and lost to a good team.”
The state championship for the O-Zone team gives the City of Troy its third state title of the summer, which has never been done in Troy.
The Troy Belles who will compete in the World Series in West Monroe, La. while the Troy Machine Pitch team will compete in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
O-Zone will have a couple weeks to prepare for the tournament and plan to fine-tune their game until then.
“They knew that we weren’t perfect this week. They made mistakes, and they know there are things they need to work on,” Nelson said. “They want to go and represent the city of Troy when they get there. They know it will take a lot more work to win. They are going to have to raise the bar a little bit more of the next couple of weeks.”
From the long drives to the tournaments to a lucky shirt worn by a fan Sheldan Sanders the O-Zone fans supported the team every step along the way.
“It is great to be apart of an atmosphere and community like Troy,” Nelson said. “They love and support you when you win and support you when you lose. It is nice to have everyone behind you. They are part of the team and it feels good that everyone back home is watching and supporting us.”