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American 10-year-old All Stars look strong
American 10s
Cole Hendrix tosses a few pitches during the Turlock American Little League 10-year-old All Star practice on Wednesday at Julien. - photo by CANDY PADILLA / The Journal

Kirk Johnson has all the confidence in the world that his Turlock American 10-year-old All Stars can go to distance when the District 73 tournament begins this weekend.

Out of seven teams in the bracket, Johnson has put together the best possible 10-year-old roster of 13 standouts who are ready to repeat as the defending champions of the tourney.

“The team is real solid one through 13, we are really solid,” he said. “We've got a lot of guys that can put the bat on the ball and we have a lot of guys that can pitch as well. They can all throw, really.”

Their pitching talent is rare in that for their age group they can all change speeds as good as anybody, said Johnson.

Along with strong pitching, Taylor Ness and Matt Leonesio will provide some fierce lefty power at bat in their respective positions in the top five spots of the lineup.

“These two are really the big stick, I mean you can just tell it's not their first rodeo,” Johnson said of Ness and Leonesio. “They can put the ball in play and they always do so and they do it very well and we will expect a lot from them.”

Kyle Ericksen at shortstop looks to be a steady force for the team as a utility and lead off player, along with working as catcher and pitching.

Teague Fredeen and Cole Hendrix are also expected to help lift the lineup and provide great play from both offense and defense.

“These are some good guys. We will put a lot on their plate, but I feel they can handle it,” said Johnson.

Johnson comes off a regular season as head coach of the A's on the American Majors side. He led the squad to an 8-8 record during the regular season, which placed them one game behind the fourth place team.

The 10-year olds will play all their games at Soderquist Field and the Turlock American 10s will begin the tournament with a matchup against Mariposa at 6 p.m. today.