Picayune Big Dawgs are 8u district champions, state tourney bound

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Picayune Big Dawgs head to the state tourney on a high note after becoming champions of the district tournament.

Picayune Big Dawgs head to the state tourney on a high note after becoming champions of the district tournament.

Over the weekend, the Picayune Big Dawgs all-star team won the 8u Cal Ripken district tournament for the first time, capping 14 straight wins and crowning three consecutive tournament championships, said Head Coach Josh Robertson.

“It’s an amazing feeling to win the district tournament. To watch these kids from where they started, it’s a great sight. They are growing up before our eyes and they are just remarkable to watch,” said Robertson.

Robertson said he’s coached the all-star team for three years in a row since they were six-years-old. Alongside of him are coaches Terry McQueen, Rob Porter and Chris Bayless, who all take great pride in making sure these kids feel loved and have a comfortable atmosphere to develop as people, not just athletes.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Robertson expressed how exciting it is to be able to coach and watch this team grow, saying the best part about the team is their work ethic.

“It’s startling to see their confidence. I am more excited for the boys than anything because I know how hard they have worked for this. Their strive to be champions is what makes them so special,” said Robertson.

Robertson said his coaching style does not focus on the wins or loses, but instead teaches kids how to play the game and enjoy it at the same time. He also said that teaching kids how to become a good person is what sports are all about, putting emphasis on growing as a team and developing inseparable bonds and chemistry.

“These kids are willing to do whatever it takes to win, even if it’s playing a position they might not be experienced with. I always tell them they are pieces to a puzzle and without one of them, they cannot be complete,” said Robertson.

Doing whatever it takes to win is something these kids had to demonstrate when it came to experiencing something they have never practiced against, a machine pitcher instead of coach-pitch games, Robertson said.

“The machine-pitcher was probably the biggest transition these kids had to go through. Going from coach-pitch to playing these machines is a whole different world. It throws 43 to 45 mph fastballs. That is not an easy ball to hit for an 8-year-old,” said Robertson.

He said that even though the kids had to adjust to the new style of pitching, they got accustomed to the machine and hit their stride in the first game of the tournament. In fact, the Big Dawgs 10-run-mercy ruled the first couple of games of the district tournament, leading them to play against Gulfport in the championship.

“Our defense is meshing well right now. We have been holding teams to small amounts of runs, which is boosting our confidence as a whole going into the state tournament,” said Robertson.

The Big Dawgs now head for the state championship, “As long as we go down there and give it our all, I will be happy. We have the skill to compete for the state championship, but I always tell the boys to not compete against the opponent, but against themselves, because that is all you can control,” Robertson said.

The state tournament begins on Friday in Hurley, Mississippi.