Little league team plays at state tournament

Coach Russ McReynolds
Staff Writer

Coach Russ McReynolds and several of his players are fresh off of a Dizzy Dean 12-year-old South State and Overall State Championship from the last two weeks and they’re not stopping now. 
What’s up next for the coach and his team is the quest for Willamsport, Penn., where the Little League World Series takes place. 
This is a different entity than the Dizzy Dean recreation ball that was just played in Starkville and it will be a different team. McReynolds is taking over for his brother, Tom, who has led the 12-year-olds to the South Regional tournament in Waco, Texas, the last two seasons. Russ is looking to continue the Starkville tradition started two years ago by winning the state tournament in Hattiesburg starting Monday night. 
“It’s a different group of kids, but it’s the core group (of Dizzy Dean players) and we’re excited about it,” McReynolds said. “We’re going to compete hard and we expect a lot out of them. Hopefully, we can win in Hattiesburg and get to Waco.”
To make a run in this tournament, it’s all about the pitching and McReynolds feels like his team is prepared. With most of the unit playing Dizzy Dean this year, they know what to expect. 
“We’re real familiar with the pitching rules as Dizzy Dean has gone to the same pitch count as Little League,” McReynolds said. “We’ll know how to work our pitches from there, but we’ve got several pitchers that can throw like we did in Dizzy Dean. We’ve probably got six or seven pitchers that can work on the mound.”
The four-team tournament begins tonight in Hattiesburg at 7 p.m. and runs throughout the week with the winner of the double elimination tournament advancing to the Southwest Regional in Waco beginning August 3. The winner of the Southwest Regional will head to Williamsport for the Little League World Series. 
The Starkville squad will be Eli Dale, Xavier Prater, Mac McReynolds, Ethan Pulliam, Jack Ruth and Brennon Wright, Cy Hallberg, Aiden Harper, Jett Joiner, Bentley King and Newt Thomas. 
McReynolds is assisted by Eric Hallberg and Tyler Johnson.