The Del Norte Little League Baseball Allstars are on their way to state after some impressive wins.
The team beat Grants Pass American 9-2 in six innings, ran over Gold Valley 14-0 in four innings and pummelled Gold Valley 11-1 in five innings in the Championship game.
Coach Cris Rice said the team’s key was its pitching, which kept opponents to only three runs.
“The pitching was a shared responsibility in game 1 however the rest of the tournament saw Daniels dominate striking out 19 batters in nine combined innings in three games,” he said. “That type of pitching can win you a single game at state by one player which will be huge for us if we want to make a deep run again this year.”
He said that defensively, the team made plays when the ball was hit in play and catchers did amazing, throwing out all three base runners as they attempted to steal. Rice noted that one attempt ended the second game in a walk-off throw out at second base.
“Our offense was anchored by our lead off hitter reaching base safely each plate appearance of the tournament,” Rice said. “It’s important as a lead off hitter to do whatever it takes to get on.” “The most satisfying thing for me as a coach was that in every game we played each kid made a positive contribution to our wins,” he said. “It helped reinforce our motto from last season — ‘WE NOT ME!’ That statement is a slogan we live by and helps to eliminate individual players from feeling above anyone and also helps them accept the failures that come with baseball on a daily bases.”
Rice said looking forward to state, the coaching staff has instilled a lot of confidence in the team. “We’re comprised of mostly returning players from our 2017 state run,” he said. “The difference this year compared to when these guys were 10s is that we have deep pitching with four ace pitchers and at least five guys after the four who could pitch effectively for multiple innings. The key to our success at state will be getting the bats hot.”
He said the team struggles at the plate sometimes and overcoming that will be key to winning at state.
“In closing, I am super proud of all of these boys,” Rice said. “We have players who were either two-time, three-time, or four-time District 8 Champions. When coach Daniels and I started out four years ago, there were no District 8 champions and now, four years later, it’s great reflecting back on how hard all of these kids have worked. We had no idea what we were getting into when Preston and Aidan were 8- and 9-years-old. It sure has been a fun run and lots of amazing relationships developed.”
Rice expressed special thanks to all the parents and volunteers who support little league and the Allstar program.