WARNER ROBINS -- After weeks of practicing, the all-stars from Warner Robins American Little League headed to Atlanta to Murphey-Candler Little League for the 11-12-year-old state tournament.
With a District 5 championship under its best, the team has been fine-tuning its lineups and pitching rotation in preparation for the next step in its journey.
Under the watchful eyes of the coaches, pitchers took to the mound to throw 20 pitches to some of the teams hottest hitters.
Palm to the mitt, head to the mitt, shouted Tommy Morris, who was helping with pitching.
Buddy Deal, who was a coach on last years Little League Southeastern Regional championship team, was preaching to the players about staying mentally tough.
Third-base coach Randy Dempsey sang, Its gonna be a long, lonely summer, after a few errors were made.
Manager Martin Pinckney was watchful, letting his coaches make the calls.
The practice was held on another smaller field to get ready for the 200-foot field at the state tournament. The field the 11-12-year-olds normally play on during their regular season is 215 feet.
I wanted to get them used to the smaller dimensions, Pinckney said.
After playing just four games during the district tournament, the players were ready to take the field in a real game, instead of just playing against each other.
Pinckney said he would try to keep his players nerves at bay.
If you focus on winning or losing, you do get nervous, he said.
What he will do to alleviate the butterflies against Murphey-Candler Little League, the District 2 champions, in the 12:30 p.m. game Saturday is to get players into the routine of the game.
If players get caught up in the process, the results take care of themselves, Pinckney said.
Even after the two-hour group practice, there were a few parents who stuck around to throw a few pitches individually.
Since June 15, the team has been preparing to reach the next level.
I definitely think they are ready to play some games and go out and give it their best effort, Pinckney said.
State tournament schedule
Warner Robins American Little Leagues games at the 11-12 state tournament
Saturday: vs. Murphey Candler Little, 12:30 p.m.
Sunday: vs. West Point, 3 p.m.
Monday: vs. Coastal, 8:30 p.m.
Wednesday: vs. Northern, 6 p.m.