Starkville 10-year-olds take Cohen's message and ran with it

Starkville 10-year-old Dizzy Dean All-Stars

Staff Writer

Coach Brad Cohen had a message for his Starkville 10-year-old Dizzy Dean All-Stars after they lost to Clarksdale in the West State Tournament.

Cohen woke up at 3 a.m. the next day and thought about what he was going to tell his players.

"I asked myself would a 10-year-old know what it means to win each at-bat?" Cohen said. "I just had to explain to them that a walk is a win, a hit-by-pitch is a win, a hard ground ball is a win, and when there's a runner on third base or a fly ball to the outfield and the runner scores, that's a win. Basically when you get on first base, you've won that at-bat."

With their backs to the wall, the Starkville 10-year-olds took Cohen's words to heart and transferred it to their effort on the field.
Starkville went on to win the last three games of the West State Tournament, including beating Clarksdale twice, to win the championship in Indianola, then carried that momentum to Batesville and won the Overall State title with two more wins.

"I'm so proud of our competitiveness and the knowledge that these boys have of the game of baseball and how important it is to win each at-bat and win each pitch," Cohen said. "They really grabbed that aspect of the game and ran with it. That's really what won us the championship as far as winning each play defensively, winning each at-bat, and winning each pitch."

In an impressive opener at the West State Tournament, Starkville handled Greenville 22-2.

The 10-3 loss to Clarksdale came next and sent Starkville into the loser's bracket.

Cohen still liked the make up of his squad even though it did not get the job done in the first meeting with Clarksdale.

"When we lost that game, we had one bad inning and it just snowballed on us," Cohen said. "Our concentration defensively wasn't where it needed to be.

"I told them when we lost that game that our pitching depth is good enough for us to come back and win this thing and go to the World Series."

Cohen's faith in his team paid off as it got on a roll.

After defeating Greenwood 6-4, Starkville earned a rematch against Clarksdale and had to win back-to-back games, which it did 14-8 and 8-7.

Starkville knocked off Caledonia 13-7 and Choctaw County 13-1 on Monday to claim the Overall State banner.

Cohen could see in the eyes of his players that it really did mean something to win an at-bat and win a pitch.

"Those boys took that and understood it," Cohen said. "When we started doing that and we instilled that in them, we had that doubleheader against Clarksdale in the West for the championship games and we just carried it over. Hopefully, we can carry it on over to the World Series."

The 10-year-old Dizzy Dean World Series in Southaven will take place July 20-26.

Members of the Starkville 10-year-old All-Stars are Tylan Calvert, Bradley Key Cohen, Owen Couvillion, A'Braylen Jenkins, Brody Jones, Julian Kracker, Tyreq Hendrix, Casen Sanders, Lucian Walker and Silas Walker. Assisting Cohen are coaches Terrell Hendrix and Slade Kracker.