The 10-year-old All-Stars from the Turlock American team are looking as determined as any team heading into the District tournament.
Led by four strong starting pitchers and 13 total players who competed with the majors this past season, the American side will look to be a competitive team and is focused on earning a District title and making a run into the Section tournament if everything falls into place for them.
In order to do so, the team will rely heavily on defense and their pitchers, if they hope to stand a chance in a very ambitious bracket.
“Our goal is to get to Sections and win it. We got to Districts a few years ago, but should see some success for sure,” said American head coach Kirk Johnson. “I think these kids are naturally competitive. They know why they are here.”
So far, this team group dynamic has been a key point that Johnson and his assistants (Gabe Castro and Tom Clark) have pointed out.
“They are hungry and they help each other,” he said. “What is nice about this year’s 10s is we have all 13 kids who are baseball dudes. We are not teaching anyone how to throw or hit, they came to us like that, so a little different. Whereas last year we had a few kids underdeveloped when comparing both. But it’s tough in All-Stars because the quality of competition is tough.”
Although last year’s team failed to take a District title, this team knows that they will be hosting the Section tournament and really want to be able to represent, but will take it a game at a time at first.
“They have put in a lot of work and they might as well enjoy it and that is the feeling you get being out here,” said Johnson. “How we are going to hit is the million dollar question. I think we will be fine because we have guys who can put the bat on the ball and take good approaches, but you never know.”
Game time situations differ for every athlete but the team is looking strong and will depend on the arms of Robert York, Carson Gonzales, Daniel Mazon and Bubba Lujan.
The team also has the luxury of having four catchers on the roster and multiple players who can be utility players whenever needed.
“They all pitched in the majors during the year, and two of them in the playoffs,” said Johnson. “We are real solid in a lot of spots. What they will do in a bigger situation during a game, we are hoping great, but for now we will lean on our defense.”
Look for Hunter Arellano, Mason Baker, Nick Beaken, Talan Castro, Clayton Cornell, Harry Clark, Bo Dickie, Andrew Johnson and Jordan Mikkelson to make up the rest of this year’s 10s team.
“When we are on defense, we should be great at any position,” said Johnson. “We have three solid shortstops and three second basemen and we want to be good up the middle.”
“We have 13 guys who contributed to their teams, now it’s about putting the right pieces in place to be able to be successful,” Johnson added. “We have guys who can put the bat on the ball. We don't strikeout, but I think we will put the ball in play. It’s a compact week but luckily we have the arms.”
The 10s will begin tournament play against Los Banos at 7 p.m. Sunday.