Kenn Dickson gave his players on the 15-year-old Seabrook Babe Ruth team a few days to enjoy winning the South Arkansas state tournament last week at Taylor Field.
Earlier this week, though, Dickson made sure his team turned its focus to the Southwest Regional tournament in Siloam Springs. Only the regional champion will advance to the World Series, which this year takes place in the state of Washington.
“They understand what the stakes are,” Dickson said. “They won state and celebrated that, but earlier this week we had to let that go. From that point on, we started concentrating on the regional tournament.
“Now all we have to do is go out and execute.”
Seabrook will begin play in the eight-team, double-elimination tourney at 6 p.m. today when it faces Brazoswood, Texas.
Dickson said he is impressed with the field of teams at the tournament, which features three squads each from Arkansas and Texas and one team each from Louisiana and Mississippi.
“There are seven state champions and a host,” he said. “We were supposed to have Oklahoma and New Mexico but they dropped out, so there was supposed to be 10 teams.
“But, yeah, so there are seven state champions who know what it takes to win.”
Win or lose, Seabrook will play its second tourney game on Saturday. A win Friday would have them play at 2:30, while a loss would have them play a few hours later at 7:30. With the quality of teams, Dickson said it’s of the utmost importance to take care of business in the opening game.
“You stay out of the losers’ bracket,” he said of the benefits of a win. “It keeps you from having to burn through arms, because you’d have to play two games on Sunday.
“Every team here knows you have to stay out of that losers’ bracket and win Game 1.”
Dickson said he plans to start Watson Chapel soon-to be junior Blake Phillips on Friday. Dickson said Phillips is the squad’s lone 15-year-old starting pitcher and one of five 15-year-olds on the 13-man team.
If Seabrook’s defense continues to play well, Dickson said Phillips and the pitching staff should have a productive weekend.
“We’ve been playing great defense,” he said. “At 15 years old, you’re always going to have one bad inning. Two bad innings is going to kill you.
“If we can have one bad inning — five or less runs — and play good defense the rest of the way, we feel good about our chances to come back and win.”
With a good showing this weekend, Dickson hopes his squad can add to what has already been a successful season for local summer baseball teams.
“With all the success these teams are having at various state and regional tournaments,” he said. “It shows you Pine Bluff is still the city of champions when it comes to baseball.”