Aces ready for state tournament

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By Brad Stephens

Coach Ed Raymond hopes a hard schedule has gotten his team prepared for the challenges of a state tournament.


The Oldham Aces, based out of American Legion Post 39 in La Grange, will be in Benton this weekend for the U-17 state tournament.

The double-elimination tournament starts Thursday and runs through the weekend.

Oldham has played .500-ball during the season, which started in early June, Raymond said.

The Aces have traveled around the region playing in weekend tournaments.

“Our record doesn’t always indicate how we are because I scheduled our kids in some older tournaments,” said Raymond, a former University of Dayton player who lives in Goshen. “Our kids this year who are mainly 15 or 16-year-olds… we’ve been in multiple tournaments this summer where we’ve played college kids.”

The core of the Aces team played on the junior varsity and freshman levels at Oldham County High School last year.

Having players of that experience level facing much older teams, including those participating in U-19 American Legion ball, is a two-fold benefit, Raymond said.

First, it gives those players the chance to face college pitching and hitting and see what competition is like past the high school level.

“It gave them a good look at what they aspire to be,” Raymond said. “…If they want to play in college, they got a good look at how good you really have to be regardless of what college you play for.

“They saw college pitching this summer. It was a thrill for them.”

The tough competition also gets them ready for the talent they’ll face this weekend at the state tournament. Teams from the western part of the state will be especially tough, Raymond said.

“All during the summer we kept telling the kids to apply what they’ve been taught to game situations,”  Raymond said. “…They got better because of who they were playing against, what they were doing differently before the season started.”

Oldham’s offense starts with second baseman Travis Faith, who Raymond said is hitting better than .500.
Faith “has a very nice future, not only in high school baseball, but beyond,” Raymond said.

“He’ll have an opportunity to play at the next level,” Raymond said of Faith, who was also a standout on North Oldham Little League’s 2011 Great Lakes regional champion team.

First baseman Joey Hackworth and center fielder Garrison Simpson have both had big summers, Raymond said.

Handling duties behind the plate is another member of the 2011 NOLL team, Jackson Mason.

Mason plays several other positions when he’s not catching, Raymond said.

“He’s a joy to coach because he loves the game, he knows the game,” Raymond said of Mason. “…The way he plays and the results he has, we find a way to get him in the lineup.”

“…He’s not blessed with the prototype size, but man, you can’t measure heart and desire, because if you did he’d be 10 feet tall.”

The Aces’ ace is OCHS pitcher Will Horner. The right-hander has been working with pitching coach Rick Rhodes, a former All-Southeastern Conference pitcher at Vanderbilt.

Horner has been on the mound when Oldham took on some of the better teams it faced, Raymond said.

“He’s our No. 1 go-to guy,” Raymond said of Horner. “Whenever we played a tough team, Will was our guy we put on the mound because he gave us our best chance to win.”

Horner will likely be on the mound in the tournament opener Thursday.

Raymond said he likes his team’s chances to win an American Legion title this weekend in Benton, located in Marshall County, in far western Kentucky.

Oldham won its pool at a tournament last weekend in Ashland before falling in the semifinals.

“We’re peaking at the right time and we’ll see,” Raymond said. “…I like our chances. I like our kids’ mentality. They’re ready to go.”

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