WRALL boys prepare for state tournament

awoolen@macon.comJuly 17, 2013 

WARNER ROBINS -- Rain or shine, 13 boys have been hitting the practice field every day since they won the Little League district baseball tournament.

Often, it was a mixture of rain and clouds like on July 10 when the Warner Robins American Little League West team practiced to get ready for this week’s state championship.

The team has worked on drills for both defense and offense.

“It’s complicated, but it needs to be perfect,” coach Buddy Deal yelled to his team as he hit the ball to keep the defense on its toes no matter where the ball went.

The next drill had coach Randy Jones behind the pitching machine.

First came fast balls, then the slower pitches.

“Don’t slow your bat down just because the ball is slow,” manager Brad King yelled from the outfield where he and a few of the fathers were catching balls the players hit.

The clouds started rolling in once the defense hit the field again. They continued practice for about five minutes in the downpour until the ball became too slick, and the players and coaches headed to the dugout.

Practice continued after the rainbow appeared over right field, and the sun started shining again.

Cole Hooks, who was practicing a run from third to home, slid into the dirt to be called safe.

“I like getting dirty, coach,” he said to Jones with a laugh. When he got up, a coating of red dirt covered most of his shirt and pants.

Cole, like most of the other players, was nicknamed by Deal, who was his regular season coach. “Marmaduke” Hooks did a clumsy dance trying to catch a pop-up, which earned him the comic strip Great Dane’s nickname.

Corbet Luna is called “Big Smoothie.”

Cameron Jones, who played on last year’s Georgia team that lost in the Southeastern Region championship game to Tennessee, is the “Crafty Vet,” a name he gave himself.

The team outscored its opponents 65-9 in the four games of the District 5 tournament.

“This is our year,” said Deal, who attributes his attitude to the odd year.

Teams from Warner Robins have reached the World Series in 2007, 2009 and 2011.

This team will travel to Richmond Hill Little League on Friday on their way to fulfill that goal. The first state tournament game starts at 10 a.m. Saturday.

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