Ten years ago, Northern Little League put Columbus on the youth baseball map in a big way, winning it all at the Little League World Series in Williamsport, PA.
It’s once again time to dream big dreams as the latest set of Northern All-Stars will head to the state tournament this weekend.
COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - They've been hard at work at John Rigdon Park since winning the District 8 title three weeks ago, but this group already knows about winning even bigger tournaments.
Nine of the 13 players on the roster were on the 11-year old All-Star team that won the Georgia state title and went on to win the Tournament of State Champions in Greenville, NC last August. But they say that’s all in the past.
“I mean it helps, but we can't live off last year,” said catcher/second baseman Dell Davis. “We've got to work hard this year.”
“It definitely boosts your confidence, for yourself and your team,” shortstop/pitcher Trey Sanders added. “It's a lot harder this year then it was last year, so you can't really describe how it's going to be this year. You've just got to keep working. No matter what happened last year.”
Northern ran into virtually no trouble at the District 8 tournament in June. They swept through their bracket, winning all three games, two by the 10-run rule. They also did it without one big star player dominating things, according to manager Randy Morris.
“We'll probably get more out of the line up with these kids and all thirteen kids than any team I've coached in a while,” Morris said. “Everybody on the team contributes. I guess that's our strength really.”
“We have a lot of good pitchers that can go in the games, and we have a lot of good hitters that can hit the ball pretty well,” said third baseman William Nobles. “We can win some games.”
The Northern program has won three state titles in the last six years and half a dozen since 2002 with two trips to Williamsport. That means this group comes in as a favorite to win it all. They say they're ready for the pressure.
“You just have to play your best,” Sanders said. “I mean, everybody's going to throw their ace against you. Nobody's taking anybody for granted. I think we've just got a target on our backs. I think it helps us play better because we know they're out to get us. You've just got to play for the name on your chest.”
Northern opens play versus Smyrna Little League on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET in Peachtree City.