By Tim Chambers
A classic movie once told us that “Angels” were in the outfield but you can find them somewhere else at the Johnson County Little League Field. The Johnson County Bank Angels are currently in first place in the Majors division and are undefeated at 5-0.
They won their first four games by way of the run rule then knocked off the previously undefeated Diamondbacks by five last week.
Manager Dirk Simcox likes the make-up of his squad that has a variety of several experienced players. He feels like pitching and hitting has been the key so far to their success.
“We’ve had several of these kids together for past three years, so there is good chemistry among them,” said Simcox. “They love to be out on the field, and they all love to play. We have five or six kids that can pitch, and we’ve got a few younger players who are improving as well. We’ve been able to score a lot of runs, and our returning players have hit the ball well.”
The pitching staff of Graham Reece, Conner Simcox, Chris Reece, Ethan Reece and Eli Dickens have all stepped up and performed well so far. Graham was the starting centerfielder for the middle school team while Simcox and Chris Reece were two of the All-Stars top pitchers last year.
The league adopted a new pitching rule that states a team must start and end the game with a nine or 10-year old pitcher in games played on Thursday. Simcox is not a fan of the rule.
“I can’t see making it a rule because you should be working with the younger kids so they can learn,” said Simcox. “We ask our players where they want to play at before the season starts and give them all a try. Some can do and some can’t. You don’t ever want to put a kid on the mound in harm’s way. Some of the older kids hit the ball hard.”
Team success can always be found when good pitching is complimented with good hitting. The Angels have been the beneficiary of both.
Graham Reece, Simcox, Ethan Reece, Eli Dickens and George Grill have been knocking the cover off the ball. He also likes what he has seen in newcomer Tyler Bouchelle.
“I drafted Tyler, and he’s played outstanding,” said Simcox. “His sister plays for my wife’s softball team, and she is an outstanding athlete too.”
The head skipper was quick to compliment all the players on his team.
“Some teams usually have three or four kids that are strong, and the rest are average, but we’ve got quality players across the board. Some need to learn a few things, but all of them are solid kids.”
The younger players of Sam Cretsinger, Hayden Parker, Gavin Conder plus 12-year old newcomer Tanner Bullinar have helped elevate the Angles as the league’s top squad.
Parker started the game on the mound in the big win over the Diamondbacks, and Cretsinger closed it out.
“I thought both of them did a good job on the mound,” said Simcox. We pitched one our good pitchers in between them, but I pleased with their effort.”
George Grill and Daniel Dickens assist Simcox.
“Both of them have done a great job assisting and so has Brad Reece,” added Simcox. “Brad is not an official coach this year, but he definitely is a big part of it.”
Simcox likes the fact that the league has six teams.
“I’ve been in this since 2006 when I started with my oldest son’s T-Ball team, and this is the most teams that I can remember us having. The league is well balanced. The Diamondback is young, but they have an excellent team, and the Dodgers have some good players. The other teams are all bunched in there together. It definitely is a good league this year.”