The Hilton Head Dixie Boys baseball team could hardly have been more dominant in rolling throughout the District 1 tournament earlier this month.
Bill Keen's team allowed just six runs that week and scored dozens more in cruising to another state tournament appearance. Keen and company hope to parlay that into a second consecutive Dixie Boys World Series, but there's business to be done first.
The journey begins in North Augusta on Saturday, starting with a 1 p.m. game against Gaffney. Keen is very confident in his team's ability, but knows that they can't get ahead of themselves.
"I don't think they're in awe at all," Keen said of his players, many of whom were part of the World Series runners-up in 2013. "If I was to measure them at this point, I think they expect to win it as well. It will be interesting to see how they respond if they're down 5-4 or 4-2 in the sixth inning of a game. This year I would have to say that we're never out of a game."
Part of that is due to a consistent focus on fundamentals and familiarity. This is a squad that knows each other well, and turns that into an advantage when the going gets tough.
"We've been together for three years now, so they work very well together," Keen said. "They know what to expect from the coaching staff and the coaching staff knows what to expect from them. In three years being together, they play very well together."
Keen knows expectations are high. In fact, he believes his team is in a very good position to advance.
"I feel that we should win it. It's a whole level of different pressure on the kids. It's a much better team than it was last year."