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Linden 12U heads for Lakeland

The Linden 12U all-star team will begin play in the Southeast Regional in Lakeland, Fla. Thursday evening, just three days after wrapping up its pre-tournament practice.

Head coach Tim Collins is excited about his team’s chances, citing the squad’s run of strong practice sessions as validation for his confidence.

“The pitchers are peaking at the right time,” Collins said. “The kids are feeling good about their arms and really hitting their spots.”

But as well as the Linden pitching staff has been faring, Collins believes the real improvement in the team may be its offense.

“(Monday) we had just the best practice we could have,” Collins said.

Over the last few weeks, Collins and the Linden coaches have attempted to raise the level of pitching its players faced. In order to do so, they have enlisted the help of Chris Sammons, Wood Collins and a few other Marengo Academy varsity arms.

“We brought in the high school kids,” Collins said. “These kids have seen pitching and they’re putting the bat on the ball. I don’t think they will see any better pitching than they’ve seen this week. We’re as ready as we’ll ever be.”

Collins said he has been impressed with the way the Linden youngsters have embraced the moment ahead of them.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “I think the kids understand how special it is. We told them how important state was when we were practicing to go to state. Since winning (state), we’ve just had this overwhelming support financially and otherwise.”

That support figures to carry over when the tournament begins Thursday in Lakeland as a number of local supporters reportedly will make the trip.

“For this much fuss and this many people to be participating, it really lets the kids know this is the real deal,” Collins said. “Linden, Ala. is going to show up in force in Lakeland.”

Linden begins play in the 12-team, double-elimination draw Thursday at 7 p.m. against Lakeland, Fla.

“I actually like our chances going into the first game,” Collins said. If Linden defeats Lakeland, it will then have to contend with the formidable representative from Virginia.

“If we get by (the first game), the next game is going to be crucial,” Collins said. “If we get through it, I like our chances of taking it all.”