The MTL Truckers travel baseball team is used to traversing the South for tournaments.
As they’ve ventured to Florida, Louisiana, Alabama and northern parts of Mississippi, coming back with multiple championships along the way, they’ve grown accustomed to long hours on the road.
But Saturday served as a change of pace, as well as a change of venue, for the Truckers, who took one of four fields at the Sammie Davidson Sports Complex in Meridian as one of 30 clubs participating in this year’s State Games of Mississippi Grand Slam Tournament.
For head coach Elton Reed, it’s refreshing to have a group of spectators cheering for his squad.
“We don’t get to play in Meridian much. It’s good to be able to play in your hometown,” he said. “A lot of grandparents and the kids’ folks get to come watch them play. Usually they don’t get to watch the kids play, so it’s good to be home.”
One member of the Truckers, Sullivan Reed, said he’s embraced having an audience and enjoys the change from lengthy trips to other events.
“It’s good because you can just wake up out of your bed and come to the ballpark,” he said. “And you have a good atmosphere of people who come watch you.”
Elton Reed said the Truckers are playing a tournament in the Queen City for just the fourth time in as many years. They’re competing in the 11-year-old division this year, along with four other teams from Mississippi, including Hattiesburg and Choctaw, and one from Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Having served as coach since the Truckers were competing in the 8-year-old division, Elton Reed said it’s been rewarding to see them grow as baseball players and form camaraderie with one another.
“A lot of them are going into junior high (school), and you can see the progression,” he said. “We’ve done really well over the years, so it’s good to see the kids grow and have fun and have friendships they’ll have for the rest of their lives.”
With a home crowd present to support his squad, Elton Reed said the emphasis for the Grand Slam Tournament has been put on enjoyment and improvement.
“(We want to) play hard, and just have fun. Just get better every game and every at-bat. When an at-bat isn’t what you want, you can get better the next one,” he said. “You always want to win, but it’s not always about winning.”