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West Bladen plays South Carolina in Dixie Pre-Majors World Series

   CHIPLEY, Fla. -- Legs have been stretched after a trip of more than 600 miles. Hotel rooms have been assigned. And the steak served during Friday night's banquet has been digested.

   For the West Bladen High School baseball team, it's time to play ball.

   The state champion Knights are scheduled to play Gaston, S.C., at 1 p.m. EDT Saturday in the opening round of the Dixie Pre-Majors World Series at Chipley High School.

   "We feel good," said Coach Kim Cain, whose team is appearing in the World Series for the second consecutive year. "We've got four players coming back from last year's team, and that will give us a little experience."

   The secret to success for the Knights in the World Series really isn't a secret at all, Cain said.

   "We're going to have to do like we usually do in most games," he said. "We're going to have to throw strikes, play defense, and hit the ball. We're definitely going to have to throw strikes."

   Members of the West Bladen team are Scott Bowen, Seth Britt, Troy Edge, Mason Hester, Jeremy Hunt, Ray Jones, Chandler Lennon, Trevor Lesane, Donald McCullum, Colby McLean, Joseph Miller, Michael Pastore, Weston Pidgeon, Trent West and Jarrett Williams.

   "I'm very surprised we made it back to the World Series," said Cain, whose team lost two close games last year in Alabama. "We're so young. I knew we had some talent, but I didn't think they'd be ready this year. They hit the ball in the state tournament, and they play hard every game."

   Win or lose, says Cain, the experience of playing in a World Series is something the players should cherish.

   "It's a great thing to be representing the state of North Carolina," Cain said. "And just getting to come down this far away from home and play baseball. For some of these kids, this is probably the farthest they've ever been away from home. It's just an experience they'll remember the rest of their life.

   "We'd love to win the thing, but we're going to be realistic," Cain said. "Realistically, we want to play good, and the reason we (play summer ball) is for the experience and to get us ready for next spring. We're still playing baseball. Most of these kids will be varsity next year. It's getting us a little head start on next spring. That's when it really counts."

   If West Bladen wins Saturday, it will play Sunday at 5 p.m. EDT against the winner of Saturday's Auburn, Georgia-Pine Belt, Mississippi game. If West Bladen loses Saturday, the Knights will play the Georgia-Mississippi loser at 11 a.m. EDT Sunday in an elimination game.

   Bladen Online plans to offer a real-time Gamecast of West Bladen's games. Saturday's Gamecast, which will go live with the first pitch can be watched HERE.


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