15U team focuses on continued success
Published 9:22 am Saturday, July 18, 2009
This year’s 15-year-old Babe Ruth All-Star team has seen previous success on the baseball field.
At the ages of 12 and 14 the group went right to the edge of bringing home a state title, only to fall just shy.
Now the team is back together and, for the first time, has been able to play together for a whole year.
“These guys are a year older and everyone has played a year of high school ball. I think that being able to play under DHS coach (Ben) Ramer has given the boys a little more maturity,” said 15U head coach Chris Stewart.
The squad will be heading to Tallassee, where it will face Wetumpka, Sims, Etowah and Opp over a three-day span before potentially entering the championship game.
Stewart said that he has been proud of the way that his team has practiced, but that he has had to take a little work off of his squad to get them ready to play.
“We are looking good now. We have gotten them some much needed rest for their arms. Since it is normally the 15-year-olds who pitch the most in the league, we had some tired arms. But we are finally coming around.”
Stewart said that experience should help the 15-year-old team as it has now been playing in state tournaments together for eight years. In tournaments, the ability to know each other is crucial in being confident and making plays.
While most of the team is from homegrown talent, a couple of players from Linden — Matt Etheridge and Jacob Dunn — have joined the team and reportedly been very helpful.
“Those two have come in and done a great job,” said Stewart. “They have played travel ball with our boys and they play alongside great with them.”
As always in tournament play, pitching and defense will be two big keys to victory.
Luckily for West Alabama they can do both very well.
“At this point, we have nine pitchers who have thrown throughout the year and that we have confidence in pitching at anytime,” Stewart said. “We are very solid on the defensive side of the ball and our bats are coming around.”
Chase Cameron is one of those pitchers in which Stewart puts his confidence.
“He has been pitching very well. He is just one of those guys that you give the ball to and forget it,” Stewart said. “As good as Chase’s arm is, Matt Etheridge’s bat is just as important.”
Stewart repeatedly stressed the importance of every single player on his squad.
“No one player on this team is irreplaceable. We know that we can throw anyone out there and have a good lineup.”
Stewart said that, as a team, each player’s willingness to accept his role has provided past successes and should continue to help in the quest for future glory.