The Starkville 11-year old All-Stars have been had several challenges this year and they are ready to take that experience to the next level.
The All-Stars play in the State Tournament this week in Winona. It starts today with Starkville playing Winona at 3 p.m.
"We played a tournament here in Starkville a few weeks ago, and we actually got to play up an age group," head coach Rob Poole said. "There were no other 11-year olds in it so we had to play against all 12-year-olds. We went in there not expecting to win anything. Just trying to get the boys to start getting that bond. They really surprised us."
Starkville won a game in that tournament and eventually lost to the Starkville 12-year-olds in a semifinal matchup.
Poole doesn't see a weakness on his team talent-wise.
"All around, we have got good pitching, our defense is excellent and our hitting is excellent," Poole said. "When they are on, I don't think anybody can beat us. They play with heart. They have the will and the desire to win."
Poole is confident in his squad and saw a good practice Tuesday night. If they play like they practiced that night, they will be hard to beat according to Poole, but they also have to keep their heads up.
"They have got to stick together," Poole said. "They have to stay focused and play as a team. If one gets down someone has to step in and pick him back up. They have to communicate with each other. We know they can do it."
Starkville 9-year olds
The 9-year old Starkville All-Stars are looking to represent the city and the city's baseball association with a lot of energy.
The All-Stars play in the State Tournament this week beginning today in Eupora. They open up with Grenada at 6 p.m.
"We have a great group of kids and we are super excited to represent Starkville and the Starkville Baseball Association," head coach Jay Perry said. "Win or lose, we will play with a lot of energy and effort on every play."
The team has its work cut out for it in Grenada. Starkville has played Grenada once already so it knows how tough it is.
"We have a stout opener against a very talented Grenada team," Perry said. "We played them recently in a warm-up tournament. They are solid offensively and defensively and very well-coached. We were a little later getting started than some other local teams but the guys haw worked extremely hard since we started."
Although his team is young, Perry is glad to be the coach and see his guys grow.
"It is a pleasure to work with a group of 9-year-old kids that love baseball and have a desire to get better," Perry said.