The Dalles 13U Babe Ruth All Stars pose for a picture while practicing in Moro last week. In the photo are, pictured from left to right, starting in the front row, Andy Foster, Jacob Buell, Colton Duddles, Sebastian Zeman, Conner Cummings, Taylor Beeks and Skyler Leeson. In the back row are, from left, assistant coach Mike Armstrong, Hunter Padberg, Ben Schanno, Kolby Riggleman, Wade Fields, Manager Greg Cummings, Cal Homer, Michael Armstrong and assistant coach Chad Leeson. This team heads to the Babe Ruth State Tournament next week from July 14-16 in West Linn. Butch Hert/Contributed photo
Playing alongside athletes hailing from Condon, Ione, Sherman, Hood River and White Salmon, Wash., The Dalles 13U All Star Taylor Beeks shares an unbreakable bond with his new teammates.
They are quickly coming together for the sake of a common goal – state, regionals and beyond.
“We haven’t been together for too long, but I know that these kids want to play baseball,” Beeks said. “We show it every time we come out here. We show it in the way we field, the way we hit and the way we pitch. We have a passion for the game and we show heart in every repetition we take. I know I can trust every one of these guys to give every single ounce of energy they have for this team. That is how dedicated we are.”
The Stars have 14 players on the roster, with several interchangeable parts able to fill varied roles.
Of those 14, head coach Greg Cummings and his assistants, Mike Armstrong and Chad Leeson, have as many as 10 pitchers they can put on the mound and get a reliable performance from.
Cal Homer (Condon), Sebastian Zeman (HR), Michael Armstrong (TD), Conner Cummings (TD), Ben Schanno (TD), Wade Fields (Sherman) and Hunter Padberg (Ione) make up this vaunted staff.
For Padberg, pitching is one key element to the game, but trusting the defense to make the plays is critical to making everything flow properly.
“Defense is everything. You got to play defense to hit the ball and you got to hit the ball to score runs,” Padberg said. “I think we have a solid infield right now and our outfield is coming along. Our infield is very solid and we have a couple of catchers that can play defense and keep base runners from stealing. We have a good all-around team.”
When it comes to offense, Jacob Buell (TD), Beeks and Padberg are three players who can make contact and wreak havoc on the bases with their speed game.
If they can get on base consistently, the big hitters in the lineup, Armstrong, Andy Foster (HR) and Fields will get the pitches to hit.
Zeman, Colton Duddles (HR), Conner Cummings, Schanno, Kolby Riggleman (WS), Skyler Leeson (TD), Homer and Nate Roth (WS) are also names that can contribute offensively.
“We have so many weapons on offense,” Zeman said. “We will be aggressive on the bases, we will hit inside and outside, we will bunt and hit the gaps and do pretty much everything we can to be a successful team. There is not one player that cannot do all of those things well, so I think that will make us a dangerous team to play against.”
The Dalles kicks off Babe Ruth State Tournament play from July 14-16 in West Linn.
If they can come out of that tournament with a victory, this squad heads to Spokane, Wash., for the five-day Babe Ruth Regional Tournament, taking place July 26-31.
“I feel that we can be a great team,” Beeks said. “There is still a lot to work on. If we put our hearts to it and we put our minds to it, 100 percent, then we can go far. If we are willing to go that extra mile. I know all of these kids have great talent. We have played against them in games, we have scrimmaged, I have played with them in the past and I know that they are very talented kids. What we have is, much better than talent or athleticism, is confidence and a willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done.”
What Coach Cummings and his staff wants to hammer home with this group is handling the pressure and just doing the job.
That has started in practice and in huddles, and just as clearly as Beeks sees the total buy-in, Coach Cummings has echoed that sentiment.
“We have a mantra of coming to practice and making sure that they are better today than what they were yesterday,” Coach Cummings said. “As long as everyone has that mentality and that mindset of coming here focused and ready for three hours of practice and preparation, we are going to be a tough team to beat.”
Fans can log on to www.baberuthleague.org for updates and scores.