BABE RUTH ALL-STARS
ELKINS – The Elkins 14- and 15-year-old Babe Ruth All-Stars will begin state tournament action today.
The 15-year-olds will face Ceredo-Kenova at 8 p.m. at Robin Harvey Memorial Field and the 14- year-olds play Beckley at 5:30 p.m. at Frank Loria Field in Clarksburg.
Jack Crumm, coach of the 15- year-olds, said the team is excited to take the field. The kids captured state tournament titles as both 13- and 14-year-olds. Last year, the team made it to the semifinal round of the regional tournament in Jasper, Ind.
“We have a good crew of kids,” Crumm said. “They have really progressed nicely, since last season. They’ve been hitting the ball well and the defense is solid. We’re also deeper in pitching.”
Crumm said the team has the opportunity to be the first to win three consecutive state titles. He said the kids have responded well to the added pressure.
“There’s quite a bit of pressure on these kids,” Crumm said. “They’ve been handing it well. They have both great leadership and some jokers on the team. That keeps them loose and focused. They always have a good time playing together. I think they will play at a very high level.”
Members of the 15-year-old All- Stars include Will Crumm, Cory Gillespie, Greyson Teets, Caleb Riggleman, Adam Riggleman, Daniel Hamrick, Rece Wamsley, Ben Huffman, Shane Bodkin, David Gainer, Kyle Riggleman, Matt Wilson and Blake Loftis. Ron Huffman and Daniel Hamrick are the assistant coaches.
Beckley and Huntington SE are the other teams in the tournament, which will conclude with Saturday’s title game.
The winner advances to regional play in Marinette, Wis.
Chris Broughton is coaching the Elkins 14-year-olds. He said the team got in nearly two weeks of practice to prepare for the tourney.
“We’ve got some great kids and some great parents,” Broughton said. “During the regular season the kids played on different teams, but they’ve worked very well together during practice. We have six teams in the league and it’s very competitive – that makes for a strong group of all stars to pick from.”
Broughton believes the team will be successful in the tournament.
“We need to win all three phases – hit the ball, play defense and throw strikes,” Broughton said. “I’m a firm believer that if we field a team with hustle, good attitudes and have fun while we are doing it, then the win will take care of itself.”
Members of the 14-year-old All- Stars include Russell Shiflett, Nathan Channell, Ben McDonald, Luke Swecker, Jordan White, Luke Petrice, Cody Williams, Hunter Lanham, Chris Harlan, Ean Winans, Justin Fike and Gage Elbon. Assistant coaches are Jamie Shiflett and Heath Broughton.
Huntington SE and Harrison County will also battle in today’s first-round action.
The tourney winner will advance to regional play in Kentucky.