SLUGGERS players and their mothers pose for a photo after the young athletes competed in the Junior Baseball Organization 10U Mother’s Day Tournament in Aloha. The team placed second in the standings, losing a close contest late. The players and their mothers are (pictured from left to right, front row) Taylor and Theresa Beeks, Gio and Maribel Avila, Isaac and Heather Anthony, JJ and Sandra Williams, and Caleb and Janie Nelson. In the back row are (left to right), Taylor and Becky Routson, Jake and Michele Dollarhide, Trenton and Angela Schacher, Micheal and Keri Armstrong, Conner and Katie Cummings, and Jaxon and Ruth Pullen.
Susan Routson/Contributed photo
With a young roster on his side, 10U Sluggers manager Thad Routson is using this time to instill the fundamentals of the game, while bringing his years of knowledge and an attitude of fun to the mix.
All of those elements came through last weekend, as Routson’s 10U American team secured second place at the Aloha Junior Baseball Organization Tournament.
The Sluggers won their opening game by an 8-4 score over Liberty, and kept that winning train chugging with a solid victory versus Aloha. Against Reedville in the third round, the Sluggers had the offense going on full throttle with double-digit hits for a mercy-ruled outcome to punch their finals ticket.
On Mother’s Day Sunday, however, nothing that was working could manifest itself into another win, so a second-place trophy was a good consolation prize. This winning streak is a good trend to start spring for a group that has weapons scattered throughout the lineup.
“I think we have a pretty good team,” said Sluggers player Isaac Anthony. “We hit the ball better though. We like hitting home runs.”
Whether it is Conner Cummings, Trenton Schacher or Taylor Routson, any player on this roster has the ability to step to the forefront and deliver when it matters most.
“We have so many versatile players with this lineup,” said coach Routson. “We have everything from catching depth, speed, defense and speed coming off the bench.”
Along with that group, Taylor Beeks, Giovanni Avila, JJ Williams, Caleb Nelson, Jake Dollarhide, Micheal Armstrong and Jaxon Pullen are athletes who can pitch, hit and defend with the best of them.
Armstrong keyed on swinging at good pitches as a way to improve the offense.
“Coach tells us to swing at strikes only,” he said. “Sometimes we get too excited and swing at everything. We can’t do that. I think we can learn to get better at batting.”
The only problem with having a complete roster of talented baseball players is finding the right moment to pencil them ino the lineup.
With his coaching staff helping along, coach Routson feels he has a decent gauge on matters. “All 11 of these guys are going to be major contributors to our success,” said the coach. “I expect us to be deeper in our pitching then I originally thought. We have a few kids who can throw hard. The key is the kids not only have to throw hard, but throw strikes and keep their pitch count down.”
Aside from all the x’s and o’s of the game, the goal of the Sluggers program and its coaches is to further a love for the game, while providing tough competition as a complement to the normal little league slate.
“I have fun every time,” Cummings said. “Baseball is my favorite to play. I want to keep playing for the rest of my life.”
Coach Routson is hoping that by putting their feet to the fire early on, they will be better equipped to handle the biggest stages of the game when Babe Ruth, American Legion and High School come calling.“The biggest thing with these guys is to develop a passion and the skills so when they move on, they will be prepared for high school,” Routson said. “I want to see the high school program fed from all of these other programs we make available to these kids.”