If last year's state run for the Turlock American 12-year-old All-Stars felt like enough, it wasn't, because this team wants to surpass last season’s success and build off it.
“It’s an extremely competitive group, we feel like we have a little bit of everything. We are very balanced this time around,” said American head coach Kurtis Carr. “I think we have a really loaded lineup.”
The team will have to build off last year's District and Section title runs, which took the American team to Petulama for a chance to compete for a state title.
“We were one of seven teams left out of over 300 something teams which is pretty special and I would like to make it back to where we were and have a little more success than last year if possible,” said Carr.
In order to try and achieve such a feat, Carr will look for his loaded lineup to produce in multiple ways.
“I feel like we are more athletic than we have ever been. We have more team speed and I think we have the best base running we have ever had,” said Carr of his team’s capabilities. “We have a lot of pitching; we have a lot of fielding depth and solid behind the plate.”
Eight of the 13 kids on the roster are three-year All-Star selections.
“We will be stout one through nine and any kid we put into the lineup at any given moment should be able to put the ball in play and we have got plenty of pop,” said Carr.
Griffen Sotomayor, who helped the A's reach the District final for the Tournament of Champions, will join the squad along with the seven other three year All-Stars in Cooper Carr, Boston Souza, Aidan Askil, Zach Mayol, Dylan Fuller, Auki Flores and Kaden Peterson.
“I think we are set up for some wins,” said Carr. “The fact that so many of our kids have played under pressure situations in recent All-Star games makes it much more comfortable because they know what to expect.”
In addition, the team will also have first year player Julian Espinoza and second year returner in Will York.
Drake Browning from the A's will also be added to the mix and provide great speed to a team that has a lot of that, and, well almost everything.
Gabe Gutierrez and Colin Willingham are the other two additions to the roster.
“I think what we have seen teams put unnecessary pressure on themselves because of Williamsport and that long journey and we are really not letting that impact us at all,” said Carr. “We are having the same approach, set the bar high. High expectations but don't let that be the overriding feel.”
The Americans will begin tournament play against the National team at Julien at 4 p.m. Tuesday.