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There are some advantages for teams hosting any type of championship tournament.
Comfortable surroundings and the support from the home crowd can make a difference, but it can be a reason for concern.
When it comes to the Dizzy Dean 10-year-old State Tournament, Starkville coach Randy Carlisle hopes his team can benefit from the pluses and avoid the negatives for the event that begins today at Starkville's McKee Park.
"It's kind of a double-edged sword when you have something this big at your place," Carlisle said. "Your crowd is here, the travel is less and you are familiar with the ballpark, but on the flip side, there can be a little increased pressure if you put it on yourself to perform well in front of your friends and hometown folks.
"We hope we can overcome and play well. We are familiar with the facilities at a certain time of the day and how the ballpark is going to play. We just don't need for the pressure of the hometown crowd get to us and not play within ourselves."
Starkville opens the tournament with a 7 p.m. game against Winona.
Carlisle hopes playing in the late time slot creates a more relaxed atmosphere for his squad.
The plan for Starkville will be to take batting practice away from the tournament site at 4 p.m., then arrive at McKee Park at approximately 5:30 p.m. to watch the conclusion of the late afternoon games.
"That way we'll have a little batting practice under us, get in the right mode to play the night game and move on from there," Carlisle said.
In preparation for the state tournament, Carlisle said Starkville participated in two scrimmages and a tune-up tournament last week in Mathiston.
Even though Starkville did not play well at times in Mathiston, it gave Carlisle a chance to take a good look at his club.
"We played a lot of people in different spots," Carlisle said. "We didn't play well enough to win. We had some innings where we played well and some others we didn't. The goal was just trying to find out what our best combination was for this week and be successful in this (state) tournament. (The state tournament) was the most important of the two."
Carlisle likes the experience his players gained from the scrimmages and tune-up tournament. He believes Starkville learned to play as a team and have come to know what to expect from certain players at certain positions.
Now that Starkville has reached an All-Star State Tournament, Carlisle said it's important to do the things necessary to play well against another All-Star squad.
"Some of the things they've tried and been able to get by with in the regular league when they are not playing against All-Star teams won't work when you go up against a team with equal talent across from you," Carlisle said. "The mistakes you make during the year, you can't make when you get to tournament time and expect to win."
Carlisle said defense will have to be strong if Starkville is to make a significant run in the tournament.
With a pitching staff that Carlisle calls "OK," but not dominant and an offense that probably won't put up a great amount of runs, the defense will be a key.
"Our kids throw strikes, but I don't know if we are going to have anybody that will keep other teams from hitting the ball," Carlisle said. "We can put the ball in play, but I don't think you are going to read about us having three home runs in this game and scoring 12-15 runs. We've prepared so much on defense that we want to eliminate errors and for all of the base hits given up to be singles. We know teams are going to hit the ball, but if we can keep a ball going to the outfield in front, get it back in and hold to a single, it's hard for a team to get back-to-back-to-back hits to score runs.
"If we don't allow extra base hits and eliminate errors, we think we can go pretty deep in this thing."
If Starkville wins the first game, it plays at 10 a.m. Friday against the winner of the West Point-Calhoun City game. With a loss, Starkville faces the loser of West Point-Calhoun City at 4 p.m. Friday.View more articles in: