Team Florida huddled after Friday's festivities at Burton Wells Park and the mood turned somewhat serious.
The Dixie Boys World Series begins today in Beaufort, and after Friday's activities took a laid-back tone, coaches wanted to ensure players returned to the correct mind-set.
Quentin Davis made sure his team started with a victory. Florida's 14-year-old slugger launched seven home runs during a home run derby after Friday's opening ceremonies, defeating Beaufort's Mattison Pike in the final.
"(I knew) it was going to be tough," Davis said. "I was a little nervous."
Davis said he and his Florida teammates traveled about five hours Friday morning from the Orlando area. The team dropped only a game in winning its district and state tournaments and starts World Series play today with Texas.
Beaufort opens with Halifax County, Va., at 7 p.m.
Teams started their Friday evening at Waterfront Park, where they enjoyed a meal catered by Golden Corral. Various city officials spoke, as did members of Beaufort County Parks and Leisure Services. The keynote speaker was Dan Driessen, a Beaufort County native and former Cincinnati Reds player. Driessen turned 60 on Friday and was serenaded with a rendition of "Happy Birthday" by the crowd at Waterfront Park.
He told the players of his days as a professional athlete, playing with the likes of Pete Rose and Ken Griffey Sr.
Herb Glaze, last of the guest speakers, praised Beaufort as a unique place and welcomed the large number of out-of-town guests gathered at the pavilion.
"Once you get to the water," Glaze said, "we've got you."
The baseball caravan traveled from the water to Burton Wells for the home run competition. Beaufort coach Jim Pike was worried the fences might be too far out for the 14-year-olds, but the competitors proved game.
Players started on two fields, with fans filing in the bleachers around the backstop. The spectators may have been cause for nerves, but they showed their appreciation each time a ball cleared the fence into the darkness.
Jim Pike threw for his son, Mattison, in the opening round. The son changed pitchers for the final but Davis, batting second, topped him.
"I felt like I could have done a lot better," Mattison Pike said.
Pike won't have long to dwell on the exhibition. He is expected to pitch today against Virginia.
DIXIE BOYS WORLD SERIES, DAY 1
Field 1 -- Mississippi-Arkansas, 4 p.m.; Tennessee-North Carolina, 7 p.m.
Field 2 -- Louisiana-Alabama, 4 p.m.; Virginia-Beaufort, 7 p.m.
Field 3 -- Texas-Florida, 4 p.m.; Georgia-South Carolina, 7 p.m.