Baseball season ended more than a month ago at Columbia County's high schools. Now it's time for the younger athletes to take the diamond.
Several all-star teams from both the Columbia County Recreation Department and Martinez-Evans Little League are preparing for upcoming regional tournaments.
On Tuesday, Riverside Park in Evans was filled with Columbia County Recreation teams playing in scrimmages as they prepared for upcoming state tournaments on July 14.
"I'll take all the games I can get right now," said Jamie Dukes, the coach of the Columbia County 13-year old all-stars team. "This puts them in game situations. That's hard to simulate in practice."
Dukes' team won the Dixie "O" Zone World Series last year but has now moved into the 13-year old division. They scrimmaged a team from Aiken on Tuesday and will play in as many as four scrimmages before the state tournament begins.
"We have high expectations because of last year, and I think that some of these boys might be a little overconfident right now," Dukes said. "But we've had a few of our own little running sessions."
One of this year's "O" Zone teams was also on the diamond Tuesday night for a warm-up scrimmage. Long-time coaching veteran Jack Davis will head up the 11-12 year olds Western Division All-Star Team this year and said there's one element of the game his boys can't practice enough.
"It's all about hitting," he said. "I think we're OK defensively, and we're OK pitching. We just need to do more hitting."
Unlike past years, Columbia County's all-star teams won't have to travel far for their state tournament games. The Columbia County Recreation Department is playing host to the "O" Zone State Tournament, the Junior Dixie Boys State Tournament and the Dixie Boys State Tournament.
Each tournament will be played at Riverside Park in Evans and will begin on Saturday, July 14.
The tournament champions at the state level will advance to World Series play. The "O" Zone World Series will once again take place in Troy, Ala. from July 28-Aug. 2. The Junior Dixie Boys World Series will be held in Muscle Shoals, Ala. on Aug. 4-9, and the Dixie Boys World Series will take place at Citizens Park in Aiken, S.C. on Aug. 4-9.
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