All-Star team of 11- and 12-year olds seek title
Mitch Jones has liked the way his squad has come together in three short weeks of practice time.
Players and coaches from the Del Norte Little League 11- and-12-year-old All-Star team pose for a photo during practice on Thursday. The team is taking part in the District 26 Tournament, which begins today in McKinleyville. For more photos, go to triplicate.com/photos. The Daily Triplicate/Rick Postal
Jones, the head coach of the Del Norte Little League 11- and-12-year old All-Star team, thinks the squad will be ready when they play in game action for the first time today.
“ We have looked really good at practice,” Jones said. “We’ve got a great group of kids.”
The squad will compete against other All-Star teams in the District 26 Tournament. All but Del Norte come from Humboldt County.
Del Norte will play Redwood Empire of Eureka in McKinleyville at 10 a.m. The double elimination tournament concludes next week. The team consists of six 11- year-olds and six 12-year-olds.
Jones said that the team gets along quite well and their familiarity with one another has certainly helped. Many of them have played together before in baseball or other sports or are friends at school, which has helped them band together quickly as a squad.
The team is strong all-around, Jones said, especially with their hitting, and have the discipline and power to hit the ball all over the field.
Jones said the kids have been out practicing five days a week and have thrived.
“They are dedicated and just love the sport,” Jones said. “I feel that it is a privilege to coach a group of kids like this.”
He said his team is quite versatile with the majority of players able to play multiple positions, which helps greatly with depth. This includes all but one of the kids being able to pitch.
Corey Gardner, 12, said he has been playing baseball since he was only 2 years old and said he is excited to be on the All-Star team this season.
”It’s a good sport,” he said.
Gardner said it’s been great to be part of such a deep and talented team and said he has come away impressed with the way everyone steps their game up.
Del Norte All-Star Corey Gardner fields the ball during practice in Crescent City on Thursday. The Daily Triplicate/Rick Postal
“We’re really good at both hitting and defense,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of everything.”
Victor DeLosSantos, 12, is proud to be a part of a squad with such good players.
He said it was an honor to be selected and everyone on the team is hopeful to come away with a district title.
“That would be great,” he said.
This is the age group that plays in the Little League World Series, so Jones said that is certainly something they are aware of as they head into competition.
If they win the district tournament the regionals will be held for the first time in several years only a little more than an hour away in Eureka.
Jones, who has coached Little League for four years, said sports like baseball offer a positive, constructive outlet for area youth to partake in.
“It give them an opportunity to be active, play with other kids and have a good time,” Jones said.
Team members are Jeremy Bernal, Carter Costello, Victor DeLosSantos, Ryland DeSomber, Dakota Forkner, Angel Galindo, Corey Gardner, Cole Harper, Ryan Janeiro, Hunter Johnson, Johnnie Rafalowski and Nathan Wells.