Natchez Americans JaCorrian Davis runs to third base while Franklin County’s Brayden McGehee makes the tag Friday during a youth game. (Nicole Hester | The Natchez Democrat)
Natchez Americans Cody Dillon heads for home during Friday’s game. (Nicole Hester | The Natchez Democrat)
Natchez Nationals Cooper Johnson throws the baseball Friday. (Nicole Hester | The Natchez Democrat)
The Natchez American T-ball All-Star team celebrates its District 6 Tournament championship Saturday in Natchez. (Nicole Hester | The Natchez Democrat)
(Nicole Hester | The Natchez Democrat)
Franklin County’s Jacob Jones runs to third base during Saturday’s action. (Nicole Hester | The Natchez Democrat)
Natchez Americans ax Beach, Cody Dillon and Nathan Gonzaga sit in the dugout. (Nicole Hester | The Natchez Democrat)
The Franklin County T-ball All-Star team receives its second place trophy Saturday at the Dixie Youth District 6 Tournament in Natchez. (Nicole Hester | The Natchez Democrat)
Franklin County’s Brayden McGehee, center, listens to instructions alongside teammates Wyatt Kent, left, and Blake Barfoot, right. (Nicole Hester | The Natchez Democrat)
Franklin County gathers for a team huddle during Friday’s action. (Nicole Hester | The Natchez Democrat)
Franklin County’s Blake Barfoot raised his glove high above his head and when he brought it back down, there was a baseball sitting perfectly inside.
Barfoot caught the first out of Saturday’s Dixie Youth District 6 T-ball All-Star championship game, stopping the Natchez Americans’ lead-off batter in his tracks.
Despite Franklin County’s early spark, it was the Natchez Americans who were raising the trophy in the end.
The Americans had a come-from-behind victory to claim the district title, 19-11.
“You never know, so you just have to keep playing,” Natchez Americans coach Robert Segrest said. “We were able to come back. They did awesome.”
Franklin County was leading by one run after two innings thanks to its early defensive efforts. Along with Barfoot’s catch, Franklin County made two quick outs on throws to first base in the first inning.
“Today we made some good plays,” Franklin County coach Jason Brumfield said. “Our kids played. They listened, and they did what they were supposed to do.”
Trailing 9-8, it turns out the Americans had a few defensive plays of their own.
Americans’ Bentley Gann completed a double play and fielded the third out at first base to hold Franklin County to no runs in the top of the third inning.
“That was a turning point for sure,” Segrest said. “Everybody is allowed to get seven runs (in each inning), and the easiest way to win is to not let them get their seven.
That means your defense has to do work, and when your are on the other end of the stick like we were that first inning, you have to make sure you defense is on.”
The Natchez Americans scored its seven runs in the bottom of the frame to take the lead and hold on for good. Gann nailed a three-run inside-the-park home run to left field to seal the win in the fourth.
Gann ended the game batting 2-for-3 with two RBIs and two runs scored.
“That double play on first (base) hurt them, but we were still in it,” Brumfield said. “We just couldn’t finish.”
Alongside Gann, Andrew Goldman led the Americans batting 3-for-3 with a solo home run and an additional run scored.
Lucas Mullins, Nathan Gonzaga, Jax Beach and Carter Cook all chipped in with three hits of their own.
Austin Brumfield, Tucker Hawley and Jaylen White each ended with three hits for Franklin County.
Each tournament team, including the Natchez Nationals, will advance to the Dixie Youth T-ball State Championship starting on July 7 in Philadelphia.
Moving forward, Brumfield said he knows his team has great potential.
“I’ll take our kids and play any time,” he said. “We are going to keep practicing and try to get better. We are going to try to represent Franklin County.”
Segrest hopes the Americans can ride its recent momentum.
“We have to keep working and we have to practice,” he said. “Practice makes perfect. We aren’t shooting for perfect, but we are going to try and minimize the errors. It’s just a lot of learning curve, but as long as they are learning we are getting better.”