Commitment, dedication to game lead Tomahawks to Class AA title
Bryce Lindsey takes his turn at the plate for the Tri-County Tomahawks on Sunday. (Photo by Danny P. Smith, SDN)
It takes dedication to win a tournament of any kind.
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When it came to Class AA of the United States Sports Speciality Association 11 State Tournament, the Tri-County Tomahawks of Northeast Mississippi proved they were up for the challenge.
The Tomahawks emerged from their pool and won four competitive games in their bracket, including Sunday's championship game over the Xtreme Hurricanes from Grenada 5-3 at the Starkville Sportsplex.
Tri-County head coach Jeff Thornburg said it was a very "humbling" experience to see his squad win a state championship.
"I couldn't ask for a more dedicated group of young men," Thornburg said. "They are great kids with great parents that have great Christian beliefs. They also have the belief that practice makes perfect and sacrifice leads to success.
"I don't have a child in the race, but I enjoy the game of baseball and I enjoy what it teaches as far as integrity, hard work and ethics. These kids have what it takes. There's nothing more honorable and humble than to watch them play ball win or lose. I love to watch them play."
Thornburg, who was actually with his daughter for most of the tournament at a cheerleading conference in Hattiesburg, had to have enjoyed what the Tomahawks did on Sunday.
Tri-County jumped out to a 4-0 lead on Xtreme after two innings and that proved to be enough.
The Tomahawks were able to get two runs on four hits in the first inning and added two more in the second without the benefit of a hit.
Tri-County was able to get one more run in the third inning as Will Verdung doubled and scored.
The Hurricanes got two runs on three hits in the fourth inning and one more in the fifth on a pair of hits, but it was not enough.
Verdung had the double and single to lead the seven-hit attack for the Tomahawks, while Kyle Church, Justin Glidewell, Conner Bonds, Bryce Lindsey and Quentin Knight had one single each.
For Xtreme, Trace Beard had two singles, and Thomas Clark, Reece Oliver, Dalton Wiggins, and Hayden Self had one single each.
"That's a great team we played, no question, an honorable team and a class act," Thornburg said. "Everyone we've played here has been great. It was a great atmosphere and the place hosted a great tournament. We couldn't have asked for a better facility to play the game of baseball that most people love."
Tri-County began its quest to the championship by defeating Slammers Baseball 6-4 and Golden Spikes Baseball 8-3 on Saturday. The Tomahawks knocked off Indians Baseball 9-5 on Sunday before meeting the Hurricanes.
Thornburg gave credit to his assistant coaches for keeping the Tri-County players focused on the process while he was away.
"My coaches did an outstanding job while I was gone," Thornburg said. "I got here (Sunday) and wouldn't have missed this for anything. It was watching these young men and that's what they are. They are not boys. They are young men and we treat them as such. That credibility goes to the parents too."