12U girls ready for the big show

Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Jordan Yelensky, left, and Samantha King, right, work on a rundown play with Jasmine Runk stuck in the middle. Photos by Anthony S. Puca

Sometimes dreams do come true, and for the 12U MCYBSL softball All-Stars, the journey of a lifetime begins this weekend as they embark for the Babe Ruth World Series in Alachua, Fla.

"I get more nervous everyday," said head coach Danny Hollingsworth during a break at practice on Monday at Lewisburg Middle School. "Last week was OK down at Jackson, but it hit me this week and every day as it gets closer and closer, I get more nervous because I am afraid I am going to leave something out that we need to work on."

On Saturday, Hollingsworth's squad will kick off the entire tournament when they take the field at the Hal Brady Recreation Complex for a 9:30 a.m. contest versus the Ohio Valley Region champions from Angola, Ind.

Head coach Danny Hollingsworth looks on as catcher Blair Richards works on a first-and-third play.

"We are the first game right out of the jump," said Hollingsworth. "That will be a little nerve racking and I am sure it will be for the girls too. I am trying to get them used to being up early, so I am going to talk to the parents and get them up every day the rest of this week at 7 a.m. and get them outside doing something by 9 a.m., so when we get down there we will be ready to play."

Hollingsworth has spent most of the summer preparing the team by traveling wherever he can to face some stiff competition like in Jackson last week when the squad was pitted against 12U Class-A teams.

"I think it really helped us this past weekend facing Class-A teams in that USGFA World Series in Jackson," said Hollingsworth. "We lost two games, but we lost both by one run, we lost 2-1 and we lost 6-5 in nine innings. We played with them, beat some and we feel like we are in the middle of the stream of Class A, so I think we are about ready to be there."

Marshall County center fielder Jasmine Runk is one of those down-and-dirty players that is always crucial to a team's success.

Hollingsworth added, "Had I knew what I know now, I would have taken these kids and played Class A all summer, it is scary how good they could be right now."

The team will practice hard until they leave on Thursday and Hollingsworth is working on some details to be ready.

"We are trying to cover all the basics and we have put some more defensive plays in since Jackson," said Hollingsworth. "We have made the girls digest a whole lot of information and I hope they retain it and do OK with it, because if they do, it will help them win and if they don't it will cost them. I don't want to be the reason it costs them, sometimes you can do too much, but I don't know where that point is yet with these kids."

Assistant coaches Jackie Chapman (orange shirt) and Dwayne Singleton (red shirt) have been a big part in the 12U team's preparation this summer

There are 20 teams, divided into four, five-team divisions competing in the World Series and the Marshall County All-Stars are in the American I Division with Angola, the Midwest Plains champions from Mineral Area, Mo., perennial powerhouse Audubon, Pa. and the host Santa Fe team that won the title in 2010.

The first two days will be pool play and the girls will play host Santa Fe in the second game on Saturday before a pair of Sunday match-ups versus Mineral Area and their final pool play game against Audubon.

"Playing that host team will be tough, all their people will be behind them, so if we win that first game it will be big," said Hollingsworth. "And then the Audubon team is always there, every time you look, Audubon is in the World Series."

Only the top three teams in each division will advance to the double-elimination bracket that commences on Monday.

A 2-2 record may be good enough to advance, but in most cases a 3-1 mark in pool play assures a spot in the double elimination round.

"I think 2-2 will get there because they go by number of runs allowed and I like our pitching staff," said Hollingsworth. "I just want to get to Monday, because if we get there, anything can happen."

Hollingsworth added, "We are not going just to be going, we are going down there to win, but winning 10 games in four days will be tough."

"Finally, I want to thank all of our sponsors that have helped us," said Hollingsworth. "Without Willie Paul Davis, Lyons Chevrolet, Mike Weatherington (ADC), Waste Management, Walker Die Casting, Nichirin, and Lewisburg Industrial, none of this would be possible."