By Brian Besch
For the second consecutive season, the Livingston 11U boys have earned a state championship and are off to the Dixie League World Series.
“We had to go through district, and then we had to go through state,” Coach Shannon Goins said of the team. “It was a double elimination tournament. In the district round, there were several brackets. In our particular bracket there were only four teams in it.”
At the state level, the group from Livingston defeated Panola to advance to the ultimate goal.
“It was tougher this year, because Panola actually beat us in one of the bracket play games,” Goins said. “That put us in a three-way tie, because Panola had a loss, we had a loss, and Nacogdoches at a loss. Nacogdoches and Panola had to play each other to see who would play us in the championship.”
Livingston will represent the state in Monroe, Louisiana, which will host the final games this season.
Last year, most of the same group also advanced to the Dixie League World Series.
“They are a good group of boys,” Goins said. “They work hard, they come to practice, they want to get better and like to give 100% during the games. They are trying to get better at pitching and hitting and fielding — whatever it takes to allow them to win games. They understand the game and they understand what they need to do. They’ve played a lot of baseball, so they understand what it takes to win.”
Goins said the team has a large and dependable staff of pitchers that can give the team an edge in tournaments.
“That allows for rest periods, because there are pitch counts that you have to follow with a number you can throw per day or per tournament. All of that plays a factor in pitch counts. Because we have so many pitchers, we can still follow that guideline, but it still may be a few (extra) days until that kid has to pitch again. At 11 years old, they’re going to struggle at times hitting the strike zone or just have an off day, but one of our strong points is that we have a lot of pitching. They work hard on it, as well as all aspects of the game.”
Along with Goins, the coaching staff includes Kevin Smith and Andrew Haynes. The players are Colton Shelby, Jax Ruiz, Cade Randolph, Ezekiel Angel, Paxton Drake, Brayden Goins, Mikey Murphy, Jake Young, Bentley Campos-Jernigan, Braxon Smith Ryder Surrency and Aiden Haynes.