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franklin county times

Well rounded game paves the way for Meridian 10-year-old All-Stars

By Staff
BIG GUN Davis Tucker practices pitching Tuesday evening before the team left for regionals in Arkansas. Photo by Carisa McCain/The Meridian Star
By Jeff Byrd / staff writer
July 17, 2002
Powerful hitting and deep pitching paved the way for the Meridian 10-year-old Cal Ripken All-Stars to the Mississippi State Championship last week here at Phil Hardin Park.
This week comes the reward, a trip to the Ripken Southwest Regional in Lake Village, Ark. Meridian, which went unbeaten at the state tourney at 4-0, will open play in the regional on Friday afternoon at 2:15 against the South Texas champions.
Meridian head coach Mike Sterling credited his team's knowledge of the game and its well-rounded play in all phases that accounts for success.
During the run to the state title, Meridian outscored its opponents 68-8. The only close game came in the championship where Meridian beat Vicksburg 9-5.
Besides hitting, the team can also pitch and play defense. Unlike most All-Star teams whose top pitchers are also their best shortstops, the Meridian 10s use one primary shortstop in Michael Sterling.
They use a platoon at second base between Lane Hilliard and Andrew Blaine.
The team can also rotate in three different catchers in Witt Haggard, Caleb Melton and Sam Daniel. The reasoning there is to use battery combinations that both the pitcher and catcher are familiar with.
And Haggard knows out to catch Lawn's best pitch.
It was Haggard who was on the mound against Vicksburg and he was touched for five runs.
The Meridian staff is rounded out by Matt Ware, Davis Tucker, Tyi Edmonds and Caleb Melton.
The remainder of the line-up features several platoons. Hilliard and Daniel share third base. Lawn, Melton and Ware play at first.
Right field has the platoon of Jackson and Lawn. Center field has Daniel Finan and Tucker, while in left is Edmonds and Massingill.
Meridian is using some internal motivation as well. The North Meridian Optimist League sent three teams to Cal Ripken or Babe Ruth World Series last year. But it didn't include this group of kids.