13-year-old All-Stars prepare for tournament

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 14, 2005

It’s no surprise that the members of West Alabama’s 13-year old All-Star team are a competitive bunch. Their head coach, Jim Gardner, is a competitive guy. But at this weekend’s state tournament in Alexander city, he says he’s more concerned about his team having a good time and developing as baseball players than he is with the final score.

“We want to do well and we want to win,” he says, “but what we want to focus on is the experience they’re going to get and the opportunity to learn more about the game, about getting to chance to compete…Our definition of success does not depend on the W’s and L’s.”

Like West Alabama’s 14- and 15-year old All-Star teams and the combination teams representing Linden/Butler, the 13-year old team will be making its way to Alexander City without having competed at an Area or District tourney. Gardner feels this may put his team at a disadvantage when facing teams that have battled through qualifying tournaments to get there-but that’s not for lack of effort on his team’s part.

Email newsletter signup

“We’ve had seven games, that we’ve scheduled and they’ve played together to build their team workmanship,” he says. “I’m encouraged by the way they play. There’s no complaining. They just go out and play hard.”

Gardner also says the team’s development has been helped substantially by the players’ participation in this year’s Babe Ruth League, which has allowed team members to play against and alongside some of the area’s best 15-year olds. The All-Star experience, For Gardner, is just one more part of a season-long focus on making these players the best they can be.

“They’re not yet what they’re going to be when they’re 15, 16, 17,” he says. “This is just one step in a process of learning how to play ball.”

The West Alabama 13-year-old All-Stars are Cameron Barger, Larry Dunn, Austin Holley, Johnny Gardner, Jordan Stone, Justin Tubbs, Jacob Taylor, John Michael Cochran, Charles Jones III, Jeffery Durrett, Ja’Quan Pullum, and Trey Pickett.