Originally created 07/31/98

Belcher duo to help teams in tourneys



Jordan Belcher has been there before. For older sister Lindsay, it's a new experience.

The brother-sister duo has sharpened its skills with a backyard batting cage at their Evans home. They will play a key role on two of Columbia County's youth baseball and softball teams that will start World Series play this weekend. Four members of the state champion Columbia County Mites Baseball Team will also head west for the AAU National Championship Tournament in Kansas City, Mo.

North Augusta has three Dixie teams playing in World Series competition, beginning Saturday in Alabama and Columbia.

Lindsay and the Columbia County Dixie Belles (13-15 year olds) softball team packed their bags and headed for Dennison, Texas, early Thursday, where they'll meet host Texas in the first round today.

Jordan and the Columbia County Dixie Boys (13-14 year olds) baseball team will head for the World Series in Eufala, Ala., this morning, where they'll meet Virginia Saturday in the first round.

Jordan knows all about the long bus rides, sleeping on the hard motel beds and the countless meals from the local McDonald's. But Lindsay has never played in a fast-pitch softball World Series.

The 16-year old rising sophomore at Evans High has never really played much softball outside the state of Georgia. In fact, her farthest trip away from home to play softball was in Moultrie, Ga.

But come this weekend, the Belchers will take part in what many consider a once-in-a-lifetime experience -- playing in a youth baseball/softball World Series.

"I'm definitely excited about it," Lindsay said. "When I played tournament ball, I never really stayed overnight. This is definitely the farthest we've ever gotten. So it should be interesting."

But this won't be Jordan's first experience. As a 10-year old playing for the Columbia County Mites all-star team, Jordan played in the state tournament in Valdosta. A year later, he played in Macon for the Dixie Boys state title.

As a 12-year old in 1996, Jordan advanced to his first World Series competition in Dothan, Ala. where his team finished second in the tournament, just behind the Tennessee all-stars.

More than half of Jordan's teammates that played on the 1996 Dixie Boys World Series runnerup team will try to bring a championship back to Columbia County.

"I think we have a good chance to do well," Jordan said. "I didn't think we were up there (in 1996) talent-wise, but we played with a lot of heart that year. We were just happy to be there in World Series."

If both the Columbia County Dixie Belles and the Dixie Boys advance through the tournament to the championship game next Friday, Lindsay will miss the first week of high school varsity softball practice and tryouts at Evans High.

"I talked with coach (Collette) Cassidy and she said as long as it involved softball or a family trip, it was all right," she said. "I'll just have to have to make up the missed practices and run extra laps. But this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Trey Crabill, Josh Brodhecker, Hank McCladdie and Chris Johnson will also get to take part in a national event.

Just a week after helping the Columbia County Mites (10 year olds) win the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association's state championship, they will try to help the Georgia all-stars AAU team capture a national title.

Teams in World Series

Columbia County

-- Dixie Belles (July 31), Dennison, Texas

-- Dixie Pony Tails (Aug. 1), Pelham, Ala.

-- Dixie Boys (Aug. 1), Eufala, Ala.

North Augusta

-- Dixie Majors (Aug. 1), Florence, Ala.

-- Dixie Youth (Aug. 1), Columbia, S.C.

-- Dixie Boys (Aug. 1), Eufala, Ala.