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Meridian 12s hit the road

By By Ryan Satcher / staff writer
July 25, 2002
It's going to be a long drive, but it's well worth hours on the road.
The Meridian 12-year-old Cal Ripken All-Stars will travel to Eagle Pass, Texas, to compete in the Southwest Regional Tournament beginning on Friday. The team earned a trip to the tournament by winning the state tournament that was played in New Albany.
After a couple of bracket changes, Meridian will play the host Eagle Pass team Friday night. The team will be staying at host housing while competing in the double-elimination tournament.
Meridian beat Long Beach in the final game of the state tournament 4-0 to win the state championship. After Meridian beat Vicksburg in an 11-inning marathon, Long Beach came from the losers' bracket and won the first game between the two teams. Meridian was able to win the "if necessary game" claim the state championship.
Coach Bill Allen attributes much of the success in the tournament to the team's pitching and defense.
Austin Newell and Neil Deen are the top two pitchers for the team. Newell has a good fastball and can mix in some other pitches to keep hitters off balance. Deen comes in and throws a lot of different pitches. Together the two are a good combination, but a few other pitchers will need to step up and do well for Meridian to win the regionals.
The team was able to get the hits when it needed them but Allen hopes the bats will heat up before Friday.
Taylor Allen, Nathan Boutwell, Brandon Key, Brett Shamp and Andrew Watkins all play in the outfield and contributed some great plays in the state tournament. Davey Knight, Chase Naylor, Drake Nosco, Thornton Tucker and David Zabinski play the infield and Rock McGowin handles the catching duties for the team.
Tim Deen and Ed Shamp help Allen in the coaching duties. Allen feels the two coaches have been an important in helping the team be successful so far.