MOUNT VERNON — The 2010 Mount Vernon Baseball Association Little League All-Star teams are gearing up for another run at district and state titles. And in the case of the 12-year-olds, a shot at representing Ohio at the Great Lakes Regional in Indianapolis, Ind., in August.
Recent success in every age group has each team with high hopes.
The 12-year-olds have high hopes as they begin the District 5 Major League Tournament in Cambridge tonight. Team members are Micah Bolander, Owen Carpenter, Jacob Fry, Darrick Hubbard Jr., Logan Jones, Cody McNichols, Ethan Rummel, Bryant Shellenbarger, Austin Springer, Justin Springer, Thomas Troy and Jarret Whitt. The manager is Shawn Carpenter, and coaches include Mike Doup, Darrin Rummel, Dave Bolander and Joey Dohn.
“I would consider this team a veteran team,” said Shawn Carpenter. “This group as a whole has progressed each year since they were 9-year-olds. Last year, they were third in the state behind state champ Hamilton and runner-up North Canton. They lost to Hamilton in the winner’s bracket final, and then, lost 4-3 to North Canton in the loser’s bracket final.
“There are four new members to this team this year.”
Manager Carpenter sees a lot of talent in this year’s 12-year-old team, and believes they have what it takes to make it a long tournament run.
“I believe pitching is a strength on this team,” Carpenter said. “I feel we have three legitimate No. 1 starters. When we get into district and state competition, the more pitching the better. ... Almost all players can play any position. We have excellent team speed.”
The Major League District 5 Tournament runs through July 16, with the winner advancing to the Ohio Little League State Championship. The state tournament will be held in Elyria, July 24-31.
“Our goal is simple — to win the game we are playing in,” said Carpenter. “We feel if we do that, everything will take care of itself. Mount Vernon has an excellent baseball tradition, and we would like to continue to build on that with our own all-star success.”
The Mount Vernon 11-year-old All-Star Team is made up of Kane Baldwin, Collin Barteau, Jacob Booth, Cayleb Cole, Cade Finnell, Trace Hatfield, Desmond McCord, Jordan Radermacher, Jacob Tiell, Noah Yarman, Drew Young and Tim Zeller. The manager is Dan Trace, and the coaches are J.P. Hatfield, Jason Booth, Terry Zeller and Will Finnell.
“The majority of this group has played all-stars together since they were 8 years old,” said Jason Booth. “This is an extremely talented and highly competitive team. They play hard for one another and value the team concept. Last year as 10-year-olds, they finished their all-star campaign with an impressive 17-3 record, winning the Ohio District 5 championship and finishing third in the state tournament. The goal for this year is to repeat as District 5 champions and succeed in capturing the 2010 state championship.”
The 11-and-under District 5 tournament will be held in Cambridge beginning July 20. The 11-and-under State Tournament is scheduled for July 31 through August 6 in Defiance.
Likewise, the Mount Vernon 10-year-old All-Stars are players who have gain valuable experience. Comprising the 10-year-old team are Brody Blubaugh, Kaden Daniels, Cameron Farmer, Chad Finnell, Gerrit Franko, Jaret Gaumer, Andrew Hedrick, Dustin Hess, Nate Orr, Jeffrey Rucker, Marcus Shellenbarger and Isaac Stallard. The manager is Steve Franko, and coaches include Larry Finnell and Bill Hanna.
“With little practice time before our first tournament, one of our biggest challenges will be getting the players ready to play together as a team,” said Franko. “Since this is a 10-year-old All-Star team, we will have quite a few players playing in a position that they played very little if any during the regular season. However, with eight players returning from last years 9-year-old team and the addition of four very solid players to this years squad I think we are off to a great start in meeting this challenge. So far I have been impressed with the willingness of the players to play positions they really didn’t play during the regular season, and the work they are doing to get things done as a team.”
With young players, Franko knows it will take time for his team to begin clicking on all cylinders. He expects things to progress, though, as the tournament wears on.
“Early on, I believe our biggest strength will come on the offensive side of the ball,” Franko said, “Hopefully, this will allow us to put plenty of runs on the board as we figure out our defensive combinations, and the boys get used to playing together as a new team.”
The 9-year-old All-Stars are starting from scratch, which could lead to some growing pains. First-time All-Stars include Zachary Bragg, Carson Carpenter, Connor Curry, Colton Finnell, Parker Gregg, Jordan Hoag, Noah Hubbard, Seth Lawhon, Isaiah Miller, NickMonahan, Jaxon Snyder and Noah Stephens. The manager is Bharon Hoag, and he is assisted by coaches Wes Snyder and Jeremy Gregg.
“We’re not sure what to expect,” said Hoag. “It is hard as a 9-year-old team that plays all 10-year-old teams in the tournaments. It is a David and Goliath situation, but our kids are handling the pressure well. We are getting better and expect to have a good showing at districts.
“MVBA fields a 9-year-old team to help our players get more experience and playing time. One of the reasons (the MVBA) fields very competitive teams historically is because of the exposure they get to the game at a high level. We are proud of our 9s and plan to win a game or two in the districts to be as competitive as we can. But again our goal is to give they as much experience in a high competitive environment as we can.”
Both the 9-year-old and 10-year-old All-Stars will face an even tougher challenge this year than the teams did in year’s past. The Mount Vernon Baseball Association is holding a Round Robin tournament Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of next week to determine who will represent the league in the District 5 tournament. All-Star teams from Fredericktown, Mount Vernon and Utica will compete at Phillips Park. The team with the best record will advance. Should there be a tie, the amount of runs scored in the Round Robin Tournament will decide the champion. The 9- and 10-year-old District 5 Tournament will be held in Mount Vernon, beginning on July 20. The 9- and 10-year-old State Tournament will be held in Ironton, July 31 through August 7.
“Our main goal for this team (10-year-olds) in terms of wins and loses will be to compete hard and win the district championship, which then would allow us a shot to compete for a state championship,” said Franko. “As a team, we are very exited to have this opportunity to compete for the district championship on our home field as this year’s 9- and 10-year-old district tournament will be held right here in Mount Vernon at Phillips Park.”