Joplin Little League Junior League prepares to host state tournament

Joplin faces Northwest in the tournament opener on Friday at 6pm

JOPLIN, Mo. – The Joplin Little League Junior League team is preparing for the upcoming state tournament this weekend. The all star team is made up of players from a handful of junior league teams who were selected by their teammates and coaches to be on the roster.

“This is a very talented group of young men,” says head coach Michael Byrd. “They have a lot of skill sets that you want. There’s very little difference between the starters and the guys that are going to come in and relieve them. They’re extremely coachable. They pick up really quickly on what we try to teach them, but best of all, they’re good teammates.”

This tournament will be the first time this particular group hits the field with one another.

“We had a scrimmage against the senior league team before their tournament,” Byrd says. “We got to play against an older group of guys, so I think we’re prepared. This group is ready to play tomorrow.”

Joplin meets Northwest in the opening game on Friday at 6pm.

“To be successful, you can’t make errors, you can’t give up walks, you have to make the plays when you have the opportunities to do that and you have to be consistent and have to get good pitching,” Byrd says. “We do not have what I would consider to be a dominant pitcher. We have several good arms. We don’t need a dominant pitcher because we have good defense.”

Byrd says he expects the team’s biggest strength will be their defense. They also get home field advantage. This year’s tournament is being played at Billy Ray Field.

“Certainly there’s always an advantage of playing at a known field,” Byrd says. “These young men have been playing out here all year, so they know the hops and bounces. The fact that they have the people of Joplin here to support them is going to make a big difference for us.”