- Last Updated on 12:22 PM 04/23/12
- BY Doug Ford
For the Halifax County Dixie Jr. Boys all-star team, the Dixie Boys World Series in Seneca, South Carolina is a brand new experience, but manager Mike Watts is confident the team will compete well considering its three-game sweep at the state tournament recently in Christiansburg.
With no district tournament to gauge his team’s strengths and weaknesses, Watts may not have known how his team would perform, but any doubts he may have had were quickly erased.
“We played two fine Virginia teams, and they both looked good in practice and warm-ups,” said Watts.
“I thought it would be quite a challenge, but we were fortunate to end up on top winning all three games.
“We won by 10 runs all three games, and the guys did a fantastic job.
“We really don’t have any standouts, and everyone worked well as a team and played well as a team.”
If anything proved surprising to Watts at the state tourney, it was pitching.
“The pitching was better than what I anticipated, the guys threw strikes and that’s what it takes,” said Watts.
“The bats did a good job and we had smart base running and good defense, and it all came together, but it all starts on the mound with good pitching.”
All phases of the game will have to come together in order for Halifax County to have a good shot at the title, and his young team will probably have to overcome a bit of nervous excitement to perform its best, according to Watts.
It all starts on the mound, and it continues with solid defense and aggressive base running on offense, he added.
“We can’t allow extra outs on the bases, and we have to run the bases smart, be aggressive and take the extra base when they give it to us.
“This is all new to us, we don’t have anyone on this team who has been to a World Series at any level, some have gone to state tournaments, but none to a World Series.
“We need to remain relaxed, and I told them no matter what the outcome when they hit the field I want them to hustle, give it all we’ve got, hustle on and hustle off, and get to the spots when the ball’s in play.”
That will be the key to being competitive with the other state champions at the World Series, according to Watts, who is already aware of what other teams are bringing to the plate.
“The other teams are going to be fast on the bases and we’re going to have to be prepared for that,” he explained, adding a win in the first game would serve as a catalyst for better things to come.
“If we start on top, stay on top and play fundamental ball and hustle, good things will happen,” said Watts.