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Newton County All Stars ready for World Series
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Play ball!

Well, at least not until another day, when the host Newton County All Stars square off against Georgia during the 2008 Dixie Boys World Series.

However, the 2008 Dixie Boys World Series officially kicks off at 10 a.m. today when players and coaches arrive to City Pond Park.

As for Saturday, Newton County competes against Columbia County in the final game (sixth) of the day beginning at 7 p.m. on Field 1 at City Pond.

Others teams competing in the tournament include Auburn, Ala., Ashdown, Ark., Spring Hill, Fla., Ruston, La., Pascagoula, Miss., Columbus County, N.C., Sumpter County, S.C., Paris, Texas, McNairy County, Tenn., and Halifax County, Va.

"They've been practicing for about a month," said director of Newton Country Recreation Commission Tommy Hailey regarding the local squad. "I think it's been going well, especially since they've been given some time off by the coaches to not burn them up.

"They played in a couple tournaments, too, to get them out of the monotony of practicing everyday," Hailey added, who is also the Dixie Boys assistant state director.

Led by coaches Jesse Johnston, Ronnie Daniel and Tommy Banks, the Newton County All Stars include Dustin Daniel, Joey Mitchell, Stephen Long, Jerold Sumner, Matt Troutman, Alex Cooper, Terrell Gaither, Ryan McCranie, Austin Fuller, Bowen Braswell, Eric Shy and Matt Hitchcock.

According to Johnston, the local squad has been focusing on the smaller aspects of the game - the details that win championships.

"We're feeling pretty good," Johnston admitted. "We've been practicing and working hard on the fundamental stuff, really; just a lot of bunting, getting the runners over and hitting to right field."

The last time Newton County hosted the Dixie World Series was in 2002. The previous times were in 1993 and 1997, and the last time a Georgia team won was in 1998.

But it will be no small task. The Newton County All Stars face the same team that eliminated them last year - twice - by a combined two runs. In fact, Columbia County advanced all the way to the state championship.

"We want to avenge last year's loss," Johnston said. "The boys and I are ready to go, but we've got to do the little things and not make mistakes. We can't make errors against them; they're real good and they're pretty solid."

No tournament Covington has hosted has ever won. Past winners include Louisiana, South Carolina and Texas.

The opening banquet slated for players, coaches and officials only starts at 6:30 p.m. today at Turner Lake Recreation Center, while a concert event for families begins at 7 p.m. at the downtown Covington square.

Opening ceremonies start after the concert at 8:30 p.m. on the square.

For more information, visit the Web site at