Cartersville Little League's 11/12 "A" All-Stars will play the Columbus American All Stars at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Joe Frank Harris Field.
Richard Daniel, who coaches the Cartersville team, said his youngsters are thrilled to suit up against Columbus.
"You don't want to put more emphasis on one game than the others," Daniel said, "but at the same time these are storied programs, all the way from 10-year-olds to high school, and it seems we are always in some kind of battle with each other."
He said the kids are excited about the matchup, too. "Without a doubt they all know about Columbus. Columbus has won the Little League World Series before and that's the goal of all these kids."
Daniel said the excitement isn't just kids stuff, though, saying when he tells people around the city about the opponent they take note. "Anytime you are asked who you play and you answer 'Columbus' their eyebrows go up a little bit."
But regardless of Saturday's outcome, both teams still have a full complement of games to play as the tournament winds down to its winner.
The coach said that means he and the other coaches will be emphasizing the things that will help improve the chances of winning. He added he likes his team's chances of winning, noting it has been playing together about a month and has a fourth-place finish in the GRPA state tournament as well as an earlier district crown to its credit, plus it went undefeated in the District 1 Little League play.
To advance in the Cartersville games, he said, the team must do well in the fundamentals.
"The biggest thing we have to do," he said, "is to get good pitching. Then our defensive play has to back up our pitching. We have to make the outs that are there. We can't give up a lot of errors. Of course you know in Little League ball there are going to be errors, but we have to hold them to a minimum."
Finally, he said, the team has to score. "We have to get runners on base, then get them around to score. It doesn't matter how we get on, whether it's by walk, forcing the other team to make an error or being hit by the pitcher."
The players get a lot of emphasis on playing up to their abilities, but it's not so much about winning as it playing as well as possible, he said.
"If we do great, wonderful. Our goal is to win the state," he said. "Obviously if we fall short it will be a disappointment, but we are very proud of our kids and think they have the ability to win.
"We tell them to give their best effort, their best attitude and technique. Those are the three things they can control."
The Cartersville-Columbus matchup kicks things off but three other games will be played Saturday, including Game 2, at 1:30 p.m., featuring District 3's Midway Heights/Scottdale vs. District 7's Madison County at Rudy York Field; Game 3, at 3 p.m., featuring District 2's East Marietta vs. District 10's Walton County; Game 4, at 4 p.m., featuring District 9's Glennville vs. District 5's Warner Robins.
The schedule calls for Cartersville team to resume its play Monday at 7:30 p.m. at Joe Frank Harris Field against East Marietta; with other games set for Tuesday at 8 p.m. at Rudy York against Masters City; and Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Joe Frank Harris Field against Walton County.
The Georgia state champion will advance to the Little League Baseball Southeastern Regional Tournament in Warner Robins starting Aug. 5. That champion advances to the Little League Baseball Worlds Series in Williamsport, Penn., starting Aug. 18.
Daniel said baseball fans will be able to get an early peek at the Little League players at an opening banquet that starts at 6 p.m. today at the Cartersville Civic Center.
Not only will the players, their coaches and families be attending, but David Perno, in his sixth year as skipper of the University of Georgia Bulldogs, will be the keynote speaker.