Hard-hitting All-Stars set for regionals
Grand Mesa soaring to Texas
When it comes to a new season, the goal for most teams is to finish better than it did the year before.
As the Grand Mesa Major boys Little League All-Star team prepared for its flight Wednesday at the Grand Junction Regional Airport, it knew it had blown away what it had accomplished the year before.
The Major boys were flying to Waco, Texas, for the 2009 Little League Southwest Regional Tournament, where the winner advances to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.
“We had the same team last year as 11-year-olds, and we got beat twice by Monument in district,” Grand Mesa coach Keith Corra said. “So we couldn’t look past district this year.”
The Major boys flew through the district tournament, and continued that success in the state tournament, defeating North Boulder Little League 9-3 after two days of rain delays.
Corra said he knew he had a solid team, but the key for him was not allowing the group to get too far ahead of itself.
“We could never assume we were the best team,” Corra said. “Once I got to the tournament and we started playing, then I realized we could beat those teams.”
But just as the competition got better when Grand Mesa went to state, it again will jump when Grand Mesa begins the Southwest Regional on Friday against White Hall (Ark.) Little League. Corra said he expects there to be a difference in play, but said if his team continues to hit the ball well, it should fine.
“The pitching will be a lot of faster, but we have great hitters,” Corra said. “This all-star season we have scored 116 runs, so we can hit.”
Leading the charge at the plate is Terrick Wilkerson, who’s hit in the No. 3 spot this summer and shown off his power. Wilkerson hit a home run and went 3 for 3 in Grand Mesa’s win over North Boulder in the state championship.
On the mound, players such as Dalton Weinischke, Wilkerson and Cameron Campbell all look to keep the opponents’ run totals down.
“We have a good team,” Grand Mesa right fielder Quincy Campbell said. “We all get along, and are excited to play in Texas.”
Corra said the challenge he has given his team isn’t a physical one, but one of making
sure they’re mentally strong. Corra said he expects the umpires to be tougher in Texas.
“The umps and rules there are very strict,” Corra said. “So throwing helmets, throwing bats, getting angry, arguing with the umps won’t fly. That’s been our main focus is to get our etiquette and manners down, then just play our game.”
Grand Mesa will play three games the first four days in pool play.
After facing Arkansas on Friday, Grand Mesa will play Eastdale Little League of Albuquerque, N.M., and Bridge City Little League of East Texas.
If Grand Mesa wins two of three games, it will advance to the bracket play.
“They’re pumped up,” Corra said. “We’ve had to keep stopping at practice to try to bring them down to Earth because they’re really excited.”