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AE successfully defends district title
Marcus Lopez of the Turlock American East All-Stars fields grounders during Monday’s practice at Julien Field. - photo by CHHUN SUN / The Journal

There was no way Phil Salazar was going to do it. The coach of the Turlock American East Little League All-Stars in the age 12 division didn’t want to say that only one or two players have been important to the team’s success this season.

To him, everyone is important.

Everyone has a purpose.

That would explain how the American East All-Stars have dominated competition so far, highlighted by the fact that they now own back-to-back District 10 championships. And, as Salazar said, it’s thanks to these 12 players: Miguel Garcia, Cristan Ceja, Marcus Lopez, Anthony Moreno, Kenny Evans, David Lazar, Josh Cardenas, Cody Cornell, Jesse Cardenas, Todd Atkinson, Daniel Romeo and Dominic Jack.

Of course, it’s not surprising to hear that the players have contributed equally considering they’re some of the best from their area. The American East players were in a do-or-die situation against River Park of Fresno in Madera on Tuesday night, as they needed to win in order to survive and continue playing.

The score of that game was not available at press time.

“Anybody is capable of doing anything they want to do if they put their mind to it,” Salazar said.

“I’ve got 12 guys on the team right now. It’s a 12-man effort,” he added.

Last season, Salazar and his squad had a historic run — all the way to a Section 6 title before losing in the Western Regionals, something a Turlock team doesn’t do often. It was the furthest the coach has ever gone in his 34 years in Little League.

Going into Tuesday, the All-Stars had the ambition to make another deep run.

One factor to the success is American East’s pitching, as the All-Stars look toward Lopez, Moreno and Ceja as the three main guys. Romeo and Lazar are also important in the throwing lineup.

But again, Salazar says everyone contributes equally.
To contact Chhun Sun, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2041.