“Are you ready for baseball,” Orangeburg Parks and Recreation superintendent for recreation Shawn Taylor asked.

“Yes,” was the resounding answer from hundreds of little leaguers ages 12 and under in the Orangeburg City Gym Friday evening.

The players, coaches and parents all filled the gym for the opening ceremony of the 2021 South Carolina Dixie Youth Baseball AA Coach Pitch and Majors Division 1 & 2 state tournaments, which will be played at the Orangeburg Recreation Park.

All-star teams from across the state will be competing through the weekend, and hopefully next week for a state championship.

In search of titles: Orangeburg Dixie Youth teams get to play at home

The ceremony allowed all of the teams to meet each other while eating pizza and listening to a keynote speech from Claflin University Head Baseball Coach James Randall.

Randall, who played professionally for the Chicago White Sox and California Angels, told the players that learning the fundamentals should be their focus this weekend.

“Baseball is a skill sport. You have to learn the skills of the game in order to be successful at it,” Randall said.

“And if you don’t learn the skills of the game at the age you are now, you’re going to struggle to be successful in the game. So, it’s so important that you learn the basic fundamentals of the game of baseball,” Randall said.

Randall said playing baseball at a young age is not all about winning.

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“At this age, winning should not be your number one objective. Learning how to play the game the correct way should be your coach’s responsibility, and it should be your desire to get that done,” Randall said.

“It is so important that you listen to what your coaches are trying to teach about the proper way to play the game,” Randall said.

“You have to have an open mind,” he said. “If you are close-minded in this sport, you will not be successful,” Randall said.

WATCH NOW: Orangeburg welcoming Dixie Youth state tournaments

Having the proper fundamentals is key because baseball is a tough sport to play, Randall said.

“Hitting a baseball has to be the toughest thing in any sport to do,” Randall said. “Just think about it, baseball is the only sport you can be 3-10, and you’re considered great,” Randall said.

The Claflin coach told the players that everybody will not make it to the major leagues, but the sport of baseball can teach them life lessons.

Randall also encouraged the players to be good people in life, and treat everybody with respect.

Tournament play will begin Saturday at 9 a.m.

Admission is $8 per day or $25 for a tournament pass. Children 4 and under are admitted for free. Pets are not allowed inside the complex.

Official tournament brackets will be posted on the City of Orangeburg Parks and Recreation Department’s Facebook page. A full list of all brackets for South Carolina state tournaments can be found at www.southcarolina.dixie.org.

For questions and more information regarding the tournament, call the City of Orangeburg Parks and Recreation Department at 803-533-6020.

Contact the writer: bharris@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-596-6530

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