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Rotary Baseball Classic features nine local players
baseball all stars pic
Local All Star players include: PICTURED TOP: (Left to right) Luis Mendez, Damian Sousa-Johnson, Tyler Murphy, A.J. Derr; PICTURED BOTTOM (Left to right) Steven Kha, John Westberg, Zach Olsen. - photo by FRANKIE TOVAR / The Journal

The best junior and senior baseball players Stanislaus County has to offer are set to compete in the 23rd annual Modesto Sunrise Rotary Baseball Classic today at John Thurman Field in Modesto. Nine players from the Turlock area will participate in today’s All-Star game, representing Turlock High, Pitman High, and Turlock Christian High. The Pride will also be represented by Mick Tate and his staff who were selected to coach the West team.

“These games are a lot of fun to coach,” Pitman High’s soon-to-be retired coach Tate said. “They’re all good kids and they are going to play hard for the team.”

Pitman has six players involved in today’s game, nearly one-third of the West’s 22-man roster and the most of any school. Tyler Arnsberg, Steven Kha, A.J. Derr, Zach Olsen, Adam Nascimento and Damian Sousa-Johnson will represent the Pride. This will be the second All-Star game for Nascimento, Derr and Olsen.

“It feels great to be back. Our team (Pitman) had a really good season this year and I wouldn’t be here without my teammates,” Derr said. “All the players in this game are really talented and will have a lot of confidence in themselves and will want to show the people in the stands, so I’m excited about tonight.”

Juniors Tyler Murphy and Luis Mendez comprise Turlock’s representatives while John Westberg is the lone Eagle on the squad.

“It’s an honor to be picked as a junior to play,” Murphy said. “I’m here to throw strikes.”

The West team is comprised of players from Johansen, Orestimba, Davis, Modesto Christian and Modesto high schools, as well as the three Turlock schools.

The West will face off against the East team, which includes players from Enochs, Central Valley, Oakdale, Downey, Riverbank, Central Catholic, Beyer, Hughson and Ceres high schools.

In years past, the All-Star weekend included two separate games — one for the small schools and one for the large schools. Things are different this year as officials have consolidated the two games to create one, truly All-Star, matchup.

“It feels good that Turlock Christian is being represented in the one All-Star game this year,” Westberg said.

“These kids are competitors,” Tate said. “They don’t want to lose, they want to go out and win.”

Sousa-Johnson is set to start the game on the mound for the West and Murphy will close it out.

“They say we’re the underdogs and we love it,” Tate said. “But no one here feels like we’re underdogs.”

Tonight’s game begins at 7:05 p.m.