Starkville 9's put deep, talented team on baseball field

Sarkville 9-year-old Dizzy Dean All-Stars

Starkville 9-year-old Dizzy Dean All-Stars

Staff Writer

Coach Brantley Johnson believes he has a deep and talented group of Starkville 9-year-old All-Stars that can make a deep run in the Dizzy Dean South State Tournament in Louisville this week.

Starkville begins that quest Thursday against Louisville at 3 p.m.

"We've got a really stout team and I think we have a good chance of winning it all," Johnson said.

Johnson likes the fact that his squad appears to be strong in many areas.

"I think we can do it all to be honest," Johnson said. "This team has a great infield, outfield, we can hit and we can pitch. We've got seven pitchers."

The members of the 9-year-old All-Stars are Will Akers, Quintin Baker, Brantley Berkery, Micah Buckner, Alex Edelblute, Brennan Frasier, Nate Fratesi, Andrew Jenkins, Jack Johnson, Joseph Portera, Christian Riekhof and Jace Yates.

Johnson is assisted by coaches Roger Baker, Thomas Berkery and Jack Riekhof.

Although Johnson believes Starkville's 9-year-olds can be successful on the field, that's not the priority in his mind.

"I care more about the kids' character than I do about them actually winning the baseball game," Johnson said. "I want the kids to act honorably and with integrity as unto the Lord.

"I'm very realistic. Less than 1 percent of these kids will even make it to college (baseball), so we're looking for the boys to have sportsmanship, encourage one another and making friendships more than anything else."

If Starkville defeats Louisville, it would play again Thursday against Caledonia at 7 p.m. A loss puts the squad in a 5 p.m. loser's bracket game on Friday.

Starkville 11-year-olds

The 9-year-old All-Stars are not the only Starkville team looking for a championship in Louisville this week as the 11-year-old group is also in pursuit of success.

The Starkville 11's will be playing Houston Thursday with the first pitch scheduled for 1 p.m.

"We've got a great group of guys," Starkville 11-year-old coach Reggie Campbell Jr. said last week. "I wasn't familiar many of the guys because I've just got back into coaching, but it's been fun with the group of guys we've got. They've played well together."

The members of the Starkville 11-year-old All-Stars are Samuel Buckner, Jonas Coleman, Towns Fulford, Walker Hilbun, Luke Johnson, Tanner McKee, Luke McKenzie, Donovan Moorhead, Cameron Sherman, Major Smith and Kade Waltmon. Campbell's assistants are Erich Coleman and William Hilbun.

If Starkville is able to defeat Houston, it would advance in the winner's bracket to a meeting with Newton County at 5 p.m. later Thursday. A loss sends the team to a 3 p.m. loser's bracket outing on Friday.