Area stars ready for tourney|Senior Babe Ruth tournament to start Thursday

Published 3:22 am Wednesday, July 7, 2010

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
After winning the Coastal Plains Division of the Senior Babe Ruth League with a 7-1 record, select players from the Washington One team have been invited to participate in the 18U all-star circuit which is slated to begin Thursday.
The team will be comprised of the top players from the Coastal Plains Division, which also includes the Washington Two team.
Local players that made the elite roster are area stars Jake Duke, Michael Robinson, Will Swain and Brandon Thomas, each of whom come from Washington. Joining that trio are Bear Grass’ Josh Greenhaul and Caleb Hines, along with Williamston’s Christian Leggett and Southside’s Kevin Sparks.
Williamston’s Will Gurganus, Washington’s Hatteras Brooks and Northside’s Brandon Marsh each made the 16U team.
The 18U crew will begin its march towards a state title when it kicks off the seven-team, double-elimination tournament on Thursday against the Triangle all-stars at 2 p.m. at C.B. Aycock, which will be hosting the tournament.
Washington One coach Joe Duke, who was asked to coach the Coastal Plains all-stars after his team won the regular season, said that the competition will be stiff. Many of the coaches use the Senior Babe Ruth League as an opportunity for players to work on different aspects of their game, but this upcoming tournament is all about winning.
“It’s going to be more serious now,” Duke said. “It won’t be ‘I’m going to let you get your two or three innings this game.’ I’m going to try and put the best nine on the ball field each game, and that’s how we are going to go with it.”
The Washington One team was so successful because it was able to pound teams with its high-powered offense. Duke said he is hoping that trend continues with his Coastal Plains club.
“I think their bats are the strength of the team,” Duke said. “I think we got some pretty good sticks in the lineup. We don’t look bad defensively either. We got some kids that can play multiple positions for us if we need it, which is good because we have some kids that will be working and not be able to get to all the games…. We are just a very athletic and well-rounded team.”
Duke said that with so many good bats, it makes piecing together the lineup an intriguing dilemma.
“It’s fun and challenging,” Duke said. “You got all these kids that are used to being starters on their respective teams, but some of them won’t start. There are only nine positions and you can only play nine at a time. We’re going to have four guys sitting on the bench at any given time, and that might be tough for them to swallow.”
Duke said he is going to have just as hard of a time decided on who the starting pitcher will be come Thursday.
“I have a list of candidates,” Duke said. “Right now it’s between Michael Robinson, Caleb Hines and some of the other guys that I will see tonight.”
If the Coastal Plains crew can win on Thursday it will go into the winners’ bracket and play again on Friday at 1 p.m. If the team should fall in the opener it will be back in action on Saturday at 10 a.m.