By Tim Chambers
BRISTOL—Johnson County’s Little League All-Star teams will face a giant task when trying to compete with the likes of Johnson City and others in zone play. The reason why is very simple.
That happens when you try and pick three All-Star squads from a league that had only four baseball teams during the regular season in the 9-12 division.
Johnson County will field a team each in the 11-12 age division, 10-11 division and 9-10 baseball division. The final two teams placed will be a 7-8 year old coach pitch team and a 9-11 girls’ softball squad.
That’s quite an accomplishment for a league made up of five minor league teams ages 7-8 and three softball teams ages 9-12.
League president Brian Day deserves much credit for saving the league from going under. Day and others were able to start back softball in addition to getting the league back in good standing with Little League Headquarters due to paper work not being turned in over the years.
The 9-10 All-Stars saw the difficulties first hand over the weekend at Bristol.
They dropped a 27-3 contest on Friday to Jonesborough, then fell 29-8 on Saturday. But despite the two lop-sided losses they came away winners.
The team had to pull up some coach pitch kids just to field a team. Players like Nate Dorman and Carter Rhudy faced live pitching for the first time after playing coach pitch during the regular season.
Chris Reece took the mound midway through the first inning on day one and threw well. He also had a base hit as did Ethan Reece and Caleb Fritts and Braden Cornett.
Several smiles could be seen among team members when Fritts and Noah Eastridge crossed the plate for their first two runs.
Rhudy made a very good defensive play later in the game and Dorman had a good stab at first on a high throw to record another out.
Braden Cannon was robbed of a base hit in the third inning but smiled because he had whacked it good. He too made a good defensive play in the second frame to record an out.
Ethan Reece, Chris Reece and Braden Cornett had a pair of hits apiece in the game. Daniel Stout hit the ball hard and walked once. Chance Norris also provided a good defensive play. Connor Stout showed a lot of hustle during his time on the field as did Jonathan Jennings who also played coach pitch.
Manager Chris Cornett was tied up trying to gather up all the equipment after the game but coach Leon Odom took the time to speak on the team’s behalf.
“We had less than a week, three practices to get ready for this,” said Odom. “We need to pick out All-Stars earlier than what we did to try and compete but it’s all about the kids. All our teams are going to be in the same boat. We have three players who played coach pitch but everyone got their playing time in. We appreciate all the parents who allowed their kids to play and brought them over here. As long as they have fun, learn the game and get to play then we’ve done a great service to them.”