Video: From Trailblazers to History Makers – The 2016 Starkville Little Leaguers
*Fans are invited to visit Buffalo Wild Wings in Starkville on Thursday at 6:00pm to watch the Starkville Little Leaguers play New Mexico in the opening game of the Southwest Regional. The game will be broadcasted on Longhorn Network.
STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) — What a difference a year can make.
The Starkville Little Leaguers were trailblazers a season ago, making it to the Southwest Regional for the first time in Waco, Texas.
This year, going back was expected and the goal was reached.
While there are familiar faces you see from last year’s team, this year’s team has a new and stronger identity thanks to their big game experience.
“Having been down there once before, we know what to expect,” head coach Tom McReynolds said. “We know the routines that are expected. We have five guys that went last year that will be going for the second time. There’s lots of little rules that will be a big advantage for us to know.”
“We have a lot more pitchers that can throw strikes and more hitters,” infielder and pitcher Will McReynolds said. “We didn’t practice a lot last year. It helps when you practice more.”
“The hitting and pitching is outstanding on this team,” outfielder Cole Gonzales said. “And we’re all great friends.”
It’s that friendship and camaraderie that makes this year’s Starkville Little Leaguers so special.
It’s a tight-knit group that knows everyone’s strengths and weakness and their genuine love for one another as a team has led them to this point.
“We’ve played a lot of baseball together since we were young,” catcher Hayes Davis said. “I think we got together and got rolling really quick.”
That’s the kind of team that head coach Tom McReynolds has this year.
They play for one another and for the purpose of making history, but that history comes with a price for the head coach.
If Starkville wins the Southwest Regional, he has promised his kids they can shave his head on the pitcher’s mound after their triumphant moment.
“It will be awesome,” outfielder Aiden Fancher said. “It will be funny. When he walks into work, his hair would be all messed up. It would be hilarious.”
“I’m excited about it,” coach McReynolds says with a smirk. “If we do that, we would have made history and I’ll have a history making haircut. If we win that tournament, I will gladly sit there and get a haircut.”
“It would be amazing to make history for our state,” infielder Randall Futral said. “To have that for ourselves and to say we went to Williamsport would be really cool.”
Only one team from Mississippi has ever made it to Williamsport.
This year’s Starkville team hopes that history isn’t on their side and they will be able to write their own page in the baseball history book to say: Starkville, Mississippi played at the Little League World Series.
2016 Starkville Little League Team
Coaches: Tom McReynolds, Slade Fancher & Stewart Davis