COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - State playoff time has arrived for the Northern All-Stars.
Northern had to come out of the loser's bracket at the District 8 Little League Tournament two weeks ago, but they made the clutch plays to earn a trip to the state tournament in Athens.
This is a team with a lot of power, but they learned the simple secret to effective hitting when they had their backs to the wall in district -- don't swing for the fences.
"The first few games we were all long and the coaches kept stressing to be short," said outfielder/third baseman Connor King. "Then when we kept being short and we just kept hitting.
"You don't load up and take a big old strong swing. Outfielder Sean Desrosier explained. "It's just hands to the ball, real fast."
Randy Morris found changing the practice routine drove home the lesson.
"We used to take batting practice out here on the field and we had to stop that because we do have some kids that can hit a ball a long way," Morris said. "We try to stress to them to hit hard ground balls, hard line drives, and if they go over the fence, it's fine. We just want to square the ball up and try to hit it hard."
Morris has taken Northern teams to the Little World Series twice in the past ten years. He teaches his kids a simple formula to success.
"We preach to our kids that if our pitchers throw strikes, and we put the ball in play, and we can make routine plays, then we'll give ourselves a chance to win," said Morris.