The Moncks Corner Dixie Boys all-star team has taken dead aim at a state championship.
That journey begins July 20 at Noon in the 12-team Dixie Boys state tournament in Bluffton. On the line will be a ticket to the Dixie Boys (14U) World Series next month in Aiken.
Moncks Corner found no peers on the way to the district championship late last month, going 4-0 and outscoring opponents 60-3 along the way.
While remarkable against foes like Summerville, Mount Pleasant and North Charleston in the district tournament, it wasn’t always perfect for Moncks Corner, which was a positive.
“You’re always looking for something to work on,” Moncks Corner coach Steve Pauley said. “That’s the great thing about baseball or any sport. You can always work to get better. We were able to come out of those games with things we messed up on.”
In particular, small ball will be important moving forward as many in this group try to duplicate what they accomplished as Dixie Jr. Boys (13U) last summer. They won a state crown and went on to the World Series.
“We missed several bunt calls,” Pawley said. “We like to keep teams on their toes. It goes back to all the kids buying in. If we ask our No. 4 hitter to bunt, he has no problem with that. Those are things we like to work on because you can’t get too good at that stuff.”
The first obstacle at state is Mullins, a district runner-up.
“We’re going to find out real quick how good everybody is” Pawley said.
He believes Hartsville and Sumter, also good baseball towns, could be the next hurdles to deal with but he’s not looking past Game 1.
“Whoever is in front of us that is who we’re going to strap it up against,” Pawley said. “We’ll check that one off and then go to the next one. You have to focus on what’s right in front of you and take care of that. If you’re thinking about the World Series, you’re not going to make it.”
Moncks Corner has plenty sticks for production at the plate but pitching depth is what it hangs its hat on. Pawley said every player on the squad is capable of stepping up on the bump and getting outs.
That’s advantage Moncks Corner.
“The No. 1 thing you have to have in these long tournaments is pitching,” Pawley said. “Not just us, but anybody who is going to win the tournament is going to have to win six games. It’s the depth that matters. This is the deepest we’ve been in pitching ever since I’ve been associated with these boys. Is that going to translate into wins? We’ll see. I know it gives us a very good chance.”
Last summer, Pawley’s team advanced to the World Series and went 1-2, beating North Carolina before falling to Arkansas and Florida.
“We want them to have a chip on their shoulder,” Pawley said.
Team members are JP Proctor, Dylan Lambert, AJ Legette, Mason Salisbury, Hagen Gregory, Miller McGuire, Jackson Blackburn, Gavin Driggers, Ryan Pierce, Ben Cohen, Keith Stevens and Hampton Weathers.
Pauley is assisted by Butch Watson, Pete Myers and Chad Salisbury.
The Moncks Corner Dixie Junior Boys (13U), who didn't have a district, begin play in the state tournament on July 20 at Noon against the host team, Bluffton.