NOLL, SOLL 12 nationals ready for tournament

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By Brad Stephens

The two local Little League programs will be looking to get their postseasons off to a strong start over the coming days.

The 12-year-old National Little League Baseball Tournament began here Tuesday with South Oldham hosting Nelson County in a pool play game played after The Era’s press deadline.

Wednesday North Oldham traveled to Nelson County in a game also played after deadline.

At 6 Thursday night North will host South at Walsh Park in La Grange in the final pool play game.

The highest seed coming out of the three teams after pool play will host the district double elimination tournament starting Saturday and possibly continuing into Wednesday.

NOLL manager Doug Oak said his team’s depth will be its biggest strength in the tournament.

“This is a group that really is strong all the way through,” Oak said. “Really just depending on the day, any of the 13 can really do some great things for you.”

The team was state runner-up as 10-year-olds and state semifinalists their 11-year-old year.

The pitching staff will be anchored by Austin Reed, Trevor Amburgey, Trenton Mills, Deaton Oak and Marshall Cuzick, Oak said.

“All of our 13 kids have pitched successfully in different situations,” Oak said. “We have a lot of depth there as well, probably more than most other teams.

“That’s one of our strengths is the depth that we have at pitching.”

Amburgey, Reed, Mills and Gavin McLarty will all be middle-of-the-order hitters providing a lot of the team’s run production.

“Those guys are all very solid hitters,” Oak said. “We’re looking at those guys to put some wallop in the middle of the order as we go along.”

McLarty is looking to be the second member of his family to make a deep Little League postseason run.

His older brother, Griffin, was one of the star players for the 2011 NOLL 12-year-old team that advanced to the Little League World Series.

“They are very, very smart baseball kids,” Oak said of the McLarty’s. “They are very well educated in the game, great kids, they think a lot about the game and always kind of have a handle about what’s going on.”

SOLL 12’s manager Bob Hopper is carrying 12 players on his roster for the tournament.

“They haven’t played together until this year,” Hopper said. “They know of each other. But two weeks compressing all of the things that go into building a team, I think they’ve done very well.”

SOLL will rely on its team speed when it’s hitting, Hopper said.

“We’re not a home run hitting team,” Hopper said. “...we’ll play small ball if we have to. It’s kind of hard on 60-foot basepaths but we’ll do it if we can.”

Dustin Patton will be the team’s pitching ace, Hopper said.

“He’s got a lot of experience and is very composed on the mound,” Hopper said. “He doesn’t let anything get to him and he’s a power pitcher with a good breaking ball.

Nick Shelburne and Sam Clark will also be called upon to pitch for SOLL.

Aiden Tuberville will anchor the outfield for Hopper’s team.

“He’s a big hitter and he’s very fast,” Hopper said of Tuberville.

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