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Hart leads talented American squad into District 73 tourney
American 11s all stars
The Turlock American 11-year-old All-Stars head coach Eric Hart is expecting his team to be competitive in the District 73 tournament when they kick things off this week. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ/ The Journal

Last year, the Turlock American Little League 10-year-old All Stars had one of the more memorable runs in the state tournament that saw them finish with the best season to-date.

Just a year later as 11-year olds, the squad is back and head coach Eric Hart and his assistants couldn’t be any more enthusiastic for what is to come this season—first the District 73 Tournament.

“The American league side has done well and a lot of them it’s crazy how much better they are than last year,” said Hart. “A lot of them are throwing better, hitting better and their footwork looks amazing and it makes the coaches look good…but they come out here every single day working hard and wanting to get better.”

The process began a few weeks ago, nearly as soon as the regular season concluded.

Coach Hart was the head coach for the Yankees during the regular season and led them to a successful outing.

“We came in third place in the tournament, but it was funny because when we were playing a lot of the kids couldn’t wait for All Stars to begin,” said Hart. “They were looking to skip over the season, but I told them to get that done and we will get to All Stars when it’s time.”

Of that Yankees squad, three were selected to join the All Stars —Jaron Rocha, Jacob Herrera and Lincoln Hart.

One of the factors that has Hart and his squad eager to compete is they bring back 10 of the 13 players on the roster.

The squad consists of Joe Farinha, Nick Feldman, Vincent Gonzales, Dutch Lawrence, William Magni, Max Mankins, Joshua Ramirez, Xavier Ruezga, Seth Salabor, Garrett Shamgochian, Hart, Herrera and Rocha.

Ramirez, Magni and Herrera are the newcomers.

Their pitching is deeper than last year’s team.

“We have players that can really grow so that will certainly help us move along further in the tournament,” said Hart.

Last year they finished in fourth place at state.

“The kids are expecting to do well this year and they want to go further than they did in state last year,” said Hart. “We were fourth in state and went the furthest of any past 10-year-old team or any Turlock American All Star team as well in Turlock history. They want to best it but I told them to enjoy the memories and the ride as well, a lot of kids from last year and won sections in a dramatic moment, a lot of the kids remember that.”

The Turlock Americans will kick off District 73 play from Colorado Park in Los Banos against Turlock National at 7 p.m. Friday.