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Babe Ruth All-stars begin district play this week

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By Todd Martin

13-year-old All-stars,

Robert Marshall will be at the helm for the 13-year-old All-stars, and although he didn't coach in the Babe Ruth league this year, Marshall is familiar with the players from their stint in the Cal Ripken league.

"I've been coaching 30-some years, but I haven't had a group of Babe Ruth players for sometime," he said. "It's a somewhat interesting and impressive group. We're looking forward to going to Taylorsville (the site of the district tournament) and representing our community well."

The pitching staff is likely an area for problems as the team starts to prepare for the tournament. Because the Babe Ruth league is comprised of 13-, 14- and 15-year-olds, 13's don't normally get to pitch much. But with a just a three-team tournament, pitching shouldn't be much of an issue.

"The pitching staff is the question mark right now, but we're feeling our way through it," Marshall said. "But I think maybe hitting will be our strength. The kids are stroking the ball extremely well right now."

Along with hitting, the team will focus heavily on defense, Marshall said.

"My philosophy has always been if I can keep you off the scoreboard, then I can put up some runs to beat you," he said. "I think we are going to be a very good defensive team."

The team will begin play on Wednesday with a 6 p.m. game against Scott County. The winner will advance to play Frankfort on Thursday at 6 p.m., and the loser of the first game will play the loser of the Frankfort game on Friday at 6 p.m. The championship game is scheduled for Saturday at noon, with a second game, if necessary, following at 3 p.m.

14-year-old All-stars,

The Babe Ruth 14-year-old All-stars are the only All-star team that gets to play their district tournament at home this year.

However, with only 10 players available for the tournament, Shelbyville could have trouble.

Despite the short roster of players, head coach David Neison said his team will be prepared.

"We've got a nice group of players, and we'll have enough to pitch and catch," he said. "We've looked really strong hitting the ball so far, and everybody has been hitting it hard. So I think that's going to be our strength."

With only three teams in the tournament, Neison won't have to worry much about pitching troubles.

"We've probably got four or five guys that can throw, so we should be fine," he said. "We'll play in that first game (Thursday) and then have just a few more games after that. If we can stay in the game with our pitching, then our offense should be able to carry us."

The biggest advantage for the 14-year-olds could be playing at home. Not only will the team not have to travel, but the Shelbyville field also carries a distinct advantage.

"Our field has longer grass and I think that will be an advantage," Neison said. "Most teams aren't used to playing on a field like that."

If Shelbyville wins their first game then they will advance to the championship game on Saturday at 1 p.m. If they lose the first game they'll play on Friday at 6 p.m. with a chance to advance to the championship. If necessary, a second championship game will be played Saturday at 4 p.m. following the first game.

15-year-old All-stars

Matt Buresh has coached the now 15-year-old All-star team for several seasons, and this year he's confident his team will be ready for the district.

"We'll be competitive, that's for sure," he said. "But I think every year I've coached we've lost a few players for whatever reasons. It's going to be a challenge, but we're going to put nine guys on the field and not give up anything."

In the past, Buresh has utilized the speed on his team to cause problems for opponents.

"We have some speed, and I've always liked to run," he said. "We're going to steal and try to take extra-bases whenever we can. We're going to force teams to make plays to get us out."

Buresh has also been impressed with this team's defense.

"Defensively we're very sound," he said. "We've got one of the best catchers around, and we have four or five guys that can we can count on to pitch. The top three, I think, can be effective and very efficient."

Buresh said his team can hit, but they'll probably struggle with the curveball.

"We've got some hitters, but they don't really see the curveball much in the Babe Ruth league, so we've been throwing them to them a lot in practice -- trying to work on that timing."

The 15-year-old All-stars will begin play at Frankfort's Capitol View Park beginning Wednesday with a 6 p.m. game against Henry County. The championship game is scheduled for Saturday, July 12, at 4 p.m., and if necessary a second game will be played Sunday, July 13, at 2 p.m.

"Right now the kids are positive, I'm positive and we're giving it 100 percent," Buresh said. "We're going to give it our all out there next week."