Catching up with Dunn's two host teams for this year's Dixie Youth Baseball Division 2 state tournament as they finish the final practices before bracket play this weekend.
DUNN — High-pitched voices almost rang louder than the pinging of aluminum bats as two youth baseball teams warmed up on adjacent fields Tuesday at Tyler Park.
On Red Lambeth Field, Andrew White's Dunn AA All-Stars braved the early-July heat in hopes of improving its time in the "Around the Horn" drill ahead of this weekend's Dixie Youth Baseball (DYB) Division 2 state tournament.
One of two host teams, White says his wide-eyed 8-and-under group is excited to welcome North Carolina's best ballclubs to Dunn.
"It's a great experience. Anytime you get to represent your city is huge," said White, who has several years of DYB coaching experience.
"These kids have worked hard and they've shown they've earned the chance to be out here."
Meanwhile, the Greenwaves Field was peppered with players from Dunn's 10u All-Star team who also tried their luck with the pass-oriented drill.
Dunn AAA All-Stars coach Brandon Tyndall, also a veteran DYB manager, says he's not relying on results to determine how successful the upcoming week was.
"I really don't know what to expect. I'm coaching them, not from an outcome-based perspective ... but more from a process-based perspective," Tyndall said, having led multiple Dunn All-Stars groups on the statewide stage.
"Because they're young and because some haven't played in a year and a half, we try to talk a lot about effort and process."
An unwavering effort has been the common thread for both Dunn teams who have shared the local fields with other DYB squads the past few weeks leading up to their respective tourneys.
Win or lose, both Tyndall and White acknowledge Friday's opening ceremony at Red Lambeth Field will be a memory their players won't soon forget and serve as the centerpiece for an action-packed weekend.
"It becomes real and the kids get a sense for actually getting to play in that type of environment, and that's big," White said of the ceremony that introduces each of the 24 teams.
Meanwhile, Tyndall added: "They're excited and they think it's (opening ceremony) a big deal. ... I try to tell them, 'We're not worried about what happens. We're gonna go out and enjoy our time here.'"
First-round play begins Saturday with Dunn's AA All-Stars scheduled to play South Columbus at 12:30 p.m., while Dunn AAA plays West Lincoln at 4 p.m.
Donnell Coley can be reached at email@example.com or 910-230-2040.