Excited to get the postseason underway, the Laguna Beach 10/11 All-Star team launches its hopes for an elusive title when it opens the District 55 10/11 year-old All-Star Tournament Saturday against Newport Beach American Little League.
First pitch is 1 p.m. at the Laguna Hills Sports Complex.
Eight practice sessions, each run clinic-style with instruction from coaches and the help of parents, has prepped the team for district play.
“Our team will be scrappy with good fielders, excellent speed and some good size, and has solid pitching that should keep opponents off balance,” Laguna Beach Manager Bill Burk said. “In order for us to be successful, our bats will need to come alive.”
Burk said that his pitching staff should keep Laguna in the thick of each game.
The team has two successful returning All-Star pitchers in Robert Clemons, whom Burk says throws a “great fastball,” and Garrett Burk, who possesses a “wicked” sinker.
Both pitchers, he said, threw complete games in last year’s All-Star tournament.
Providing solid play at the plate for Laguna is catcher Adam Farsheed.
Both Clemons and Burk, when not on the mound, will play in the middle-infield.
In fact, quickness and solid fundamentals sums up a formidable infield that includes speedy Brett Dunlavey at third base (he also is a pitcher/center fielder), Sundance Severino at shortstop/second base and Elijah Cassard (also a pitcher) at first base.
Adam Rodner (also a pitcher/third baseman) will start in centerfield and the outfield will be complimented by the talents of Sam Wogulis, Jacob Kunkel, Paul Wollam, Curtis Revels and Duncan Lynde.
Hitting leaders include Cassard, Clemons and Revels, each of whom hit home runs during the regular season.
Bill Burk said that Clemons will pitch Saturday for a Laguna team that is looking forward to getting tournament play underway.
“These kids are very enthusiastic,” he said. “They always hustle and are very respectful to each other and there coaches. Let me put it to you this way, at this age level, I don’t like to have practices that last for more than two hours due to ‘burn-out factor.’ The other day at practice, a group of them asked me if we could do an all-day practice, with lunch in the middle. I did not do it. I didn’t want to get them too tired but this just shows how much these kids enjoy this experience.
“Historically, our ‘beach kids’ would rather be skim boarding, surfing or the similar, but these kids also want to be playing baseball. I have been coaching All-Stars in Laguna Beach since 2001, and this is the first group that has shown me that they can integrate a ‘traditional’ sport into to there lives with the same passion that they have for their ‘beach’ sports.’ Perhaps this is our new future of ball players in Laguna Beach. They are truly special.”
Manager: Bill Burk; Coaches: Robert Clemons, Paul Wollam, Keith Peery, and Jim Wogulis. The roster: Garrett Burk, Elijah Cassard, Robert Clemons Jr, Brett Dunlavey, Adam Farsheed, Jake Hexberg, Jacob Kunkel, Morgan Lebby, Duncan Lynde, Adam Rodner, Curtis Revels, Sundance Severino, Barrett Thorton, Sam Wogulis, John Paul Wollam.
In other All-Star news
The Laguna Beach 9/10 and Junior All-Star teams also begin District 55 play this weekend and both open their respective tournaments with Sunday games at Chapparosa Park in Laguna Niguel.
The 9/10 team will play at noon Sunday against Aliso Viejo. A victory moves Laguna into a winner’s bracket game at 7:30 p.m. Monday. A loss Sunday would put Laguna in an elimination game at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
The Junior All-Stars open play at 10:30 a.m. Sunday against Rancho Niguel.
9/10 Year-Old All-Stars: Andres DeLaRosa; Jacob Flaxman; Jake Smith; Ren Kramer; Will McInerny; Nathan Sweet; Andrew Kimball; Jordan Watkins; Michael Shurtleff, Jack Wyett, Ethan Chesley, Brett Tracy, Connor Hayes, Greyson Benson, Trent Sorenson.
Junior All-Stars: Alex Bekken; Alex Davis; Austin Dodge; Ben Hanson; Alex Iannotti; Keaton Jones, Casey Miller, Matt Neev, Norty Penny, Sawyer Pierce, Tyler Pierce, Santi Pierini, Taylor Preston.