Fresh off of a devastating loss to Camden Pulpwood in the Senior Babe Ruth championship game, Hunter's Elite gets a chance at redemption this weekend when they serve as hosts for the 2017 Dixie Baseball Major League state tournament at Pine Bluff’s Taylor Field.
Among Hunter's Elite in the three-team field is Camden Pulpwood and Benton. Games will be held Friday through Sunday to decide a tournament winner, and a representative for the state of Arkansas in the Dixie Baseball Majors World Series.
Hunter's Elite and Camden Pulpwood are set for the tournament opener tonight at 7:30 p.m.
The World Series is set to be held in Monroe, Louisiana, from July 29-Aug 2.
Hunter's Elite Head Coach Earnest Wooten and his guys said they don't want to let what happened last weekend carry over into this weekend.
Moments after their tough 2-0 loss to Camden Pulpwood for the Senior Babe Ruth state title, they vowed to move forward.
"As we talked the night after the championship game we said we're going to put that one behind us," Wooten said. "Looking at the guys this week, and talking to them, I believe we've done that and we're ready to play."
Getting another shot at Camden Pulpwood is added incentive for Hunter's Elite. So far this season Pulpwood is 4-2 in head-to-head match ups with Hunter's Elite. However, while they're licking their chops for Pulpwood, Hunter's Elite can't forget about a quality Benton team.
"We have so much motivation going into this one," Wooten said. "Us and Camden have been battling for years, and they finally got the best of us this year ... we're looking for our revenge now. Benton will bring a solid group of guys as well. We're looking forward to matching up with them on Saturday. Benton is like Pine Bluff when it comes to baseball, there's a rich tradition."
Wooten and his coaching staff will make a few changes in their pitching rotation this week in attempts to keep guys fresh. Also, they know the mental miscues have hurt them, and they plan to eliminate them.
"We're focused on our pitching," Wooten said. "The rotation might get tweaked a little this weekend. We don't want to over use anybody and we want to make sure everybody is ready to go. We made a few mental mistakes from the coaches down to the players. We're working on correcting our mistakes, and that will help us get over the hump this week."
Wooten encourages all baseball fans to come out to Taylor Memorial Field and show support throughout the weekend. Saturday, there will be games held at 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m., and on Sunday the championship round begins at 3:30 p.m.
"First of all we're going to defend our home turf," Wooten said. "We want to take one game at a time, and not get ahead of ourselves. We'll do that and hope we're holding up the trophy Sunday evening."