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Smith Column: Defense seems to be working for All-Stars

July 12, 2011

By DANNY P. SMITH
Sports Editor
sdnsports@bellsouth.net

There's a saying that goes something like this, "Offense sells tickets, defense wins championships."
That appears to be a motto the Starkville Longhorns, an 8-year-old Dizzy Dean All-Star baseball team, has adopted.
On its way to winning the state championship in Louisville last weekend, Starkville combined an impressive offensive output with quality defense.
The 8-year-old All-Stars out-scored competition at the state tournament 71-19. Think about that a minute.
Sure, the 71 runs scored in four games was a pretty good feat, but even more so was the only 19 runs given up. That's less than five runs given up per game.
Starkville followed up a 17-5 victory against Caledonia with a 20-4 win against Houston in the second game and probably the most-impressive result of the four was a 22-9 decision over the host team Louisville.
The Longhorns defeated Columbus American 12-1 in the championship game Sunday, which may have been the best defensive effort of the four.
After giving up one run to Columbus to fall behind 1-0 in the third inning, Starkville didn't allow any further scoring. The defense gave the offense a chance to settle in and take control of the game.
The Longhorns put up five runs in the third inning and were on their way to claiming the state championship trophy.
Starkville coach Keith Lawrence said that although the offense has been putting up big numbers, the defense stepped up time and time again during the state title run.
Defense hasn't come from one or two players, but it has been present throughout the entire team.
"I've never seen a group from one to 12 as solid as far as fielding and can play baseball," Lawrence said after the championship game. "They are the best kids at their position and there are no holes on defense."
The next step for the Starkville 8-year-old All-Stars will be Southaven and the World Series on July 22.
According to the word that Lawrence has gotten from people who know, a team from Mississippi has not won the World Series.
Could this year's Starkville 8-year-olds be the first?
If Starkville continues to play like it did at the state tournament, there's no reason why something special can't happen for it in Southaven.

Danny P. Smith is sports editor and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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