THE DALLES 11-12-year old All Stars in front row (from lef tto right), Isaac Anthony, Gavin Cates, Wade Harmon, Conner Cummings and Jaxon Pullen. In the second row are (from left), Ben Schanno, Caleb Nelson, Taylor Beeks and Jacob Buell. In the third row are (from left), Trenton Schacher, Colin Shubert and Mike Armstrong. In the back row are coaches (from left), Greg Cummings, Manager Deric Anthony and Chris Schanno. TD plays John Day River at 8 a.m. Saturday for its first game at Kramer Field. The championship game is scheduled for July 3.
More than any other time of year, The Dalles 12U Little League All Stars are ready to put it all on the line for championship glory.
Mike Armstrong proclaimed his all-star teammates as hungry and fully prepared to take on the state’s best at the Little League District 5 baseball tournament in The Dalles.
While in a bracket with nine other squads, only the top finisher picks up a state invitation, so the Stars need to bring in their top performances to the table.
“This team is very hungry and excited for this year,” Armstrong said. “We want to do our best. I think this team has everything to win. Honestly, I think this is the best team that we have had in a while.”
With the power hitting of Trenton Schacher, Isaac Anthony, Caleb Nelson and Armstrong, the speed of Jaxon Pullen, Taylor Beeks and the defense of Jacob Buell, Conner Cummings, Ben Schanno and the all-round attributes of Colin Shubert, Gavin Cates and Wade Harmon, the pieces are in place for a strong showing.
With tournament action coming up this Saturday at Kramer Field in The Dalles, the Stars are looking to tally a few wins to get the ball rolling.
As one of the veteran players, Schanno sees a competent group that has dominance on its minds.
“We have speed and power this year and we can all make contact with the ball,” Schanno said. “We don’t swing for the fences, we strive for contact. If we can hit the ball, I think we can do good.”
Although head coach Deric Anthony is yet to pencil in his lineup, the skipper knows the strongest suit is the offensive power source this team can display.
From up and down the lineup, the Stars have the potential to reel off some hits and rack up double digits on a game-by-game basis.
Coach Anthony said the potential is limitless, as the majority of last year’s group are back to continue to torment opposing pitching staffs from two Bend teams, Jefferson County, Redmond, Sisters, John Day River, Crook County and Hood River Valley.
While there are plenty of power sources, Coach Anthony sees a team that can play small ball, steal bases and spray the ball gap-to-gap.
“They all work hard in practice and they are motivated to do well and help this team win games,” Coach Anthony said. “We have a solid group of baseball players on this team. We have deep pitching, we have solid outfielders who are coming a long ways and we have two solid orders to hit through. We got great hitters.
“It hasn’t been a problem all season. They can hit the ball. I hope they can put it all together when it comes time to play.” Through the past week and a half, the Stars have been at the practice field ironing out every detail from pickoff plays, bunt coverages, taking extra cuts in batting practice and base running drills to make sure all levels of preparation have been covered.
“All of those guys had some good experiences playing in big games and they can lead the offense,” the Stars coach said. “We have a few other guys as well that will be expected to contribute on offense and defense for us.”
Coach Anthony has assistants Greg Cummings and Chris Schanno to lean on for a lot of the strategy and pitch counts and defensive alignments.
He admitted that a lot is riding on offensive and defensive execution, because his pitching staff needs to preserve their counts, so they can be relied upon for the long haul.
Defensively, the Stars are well-equipped to make the plays and throws from wherever they are on the field.
On the mound, there is depth, velocity, accuracy and a left-handed option in Schacher available to counter any moves made by the opposition.
“They have worked their tails off and they deserve everything they can take,” Coach Anthony said. “So, they are going to work their tails off and of course at the end if they end up with the trophy, that’s great. That’s what we are here for – to play more baseball and keep striving to do their best.”
The rallying cry for this upstart group is moving up another wrung on the ladder, improving off past seasons and staking claim to their own legacy. Armstrong expects the fire to burn hot within its belly.
“We want to try our hardest and give it everything we got,” he said. “It’s an honor to be all-stars. We get to play in The Dalles and we want to win. We know we can do it.”
The Dalles faces John Day River at 8 a.m. Saturday.
If TD wins, it plays on June 28 at 7 p.m. versus Bend North.
An opening-round loss, TD plays at 5 p.m. on June 28, where another loss eliminates them from District 5 competition.
If TD wins on June 28, it plays on June 29 at 11 a.m.
A win on June 29 and TD plays at 11 a.m. on July 1 for the semifinals.
Another victory there advances TD to the championship game at 10 a.m. July 3.
An if necessary game would be played at 2 p.m.