The Turlock American 11-year-old All-Stars are ready to compete in this year's District 73 tournament, and perhaps repeat what they achieved in 2014, but to do that they'll have to outplay a tough Turlock National team and the top seeded Los Banos team.
Head coach Grady Welch, who took the year off last season, should have a fun time working with a team that looks capable from top to bottom.
“Our pitching is solid and our defense is as solid as any ball team can be at this level,” said Welch.
Welch anticipates that all the kids will be able to compete at a high level.
“All 13 kids will either put the ball in play somewhere. I don't anticipate many struggles with this group,” said Welch. “We should have a really solid group of kids. We've got a lot of good, hard hitting players and we have some good pitching also.”
Starting pitchers include Matt Leonesio, Tyler Ness, Kyle Ericksen, Drew Walker and Gavin Farinha, who will be leading the way.
“We have at least six solid throwers, we should be good there and our pitching is solid,” said Welch. “The only thing that is going to beat us is ourselves because we have a great group of kids that can play ball.”
The team also includes six players who were shortstops for their respective teams and four third basemen.
“All of them are athletic enough to play any position at any time,” said Welch of his deep infield. “It is a great group of kids. They will transition into different positions where they will be helpful and all of them have a great attitude and willing to play where they need to in order to help the ball team.”
Sean Clark, Teague Fredeen, Cole Hendrix, Max Welch, Dominic Damarte, Jackson Hart, Myles Jenkins and Kaden Redding are the rest of the players who are looking to make waves in the tourney.
In order to keep the hype to a minimum, the team will approach the tournament with a one game at a time mentality.
“That is the way I want the kids to approach it,” said Welch. “In All-Stars you can't look too far ahead, you don't want to lose your first game and battle from there, it's tough, so we want to take it one game at a time and hopefully get the first win and move into the winners bracket and then Sections.”
The first matchup for the American team will be against the National team at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Soderquist Field.