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South Oldham Intermediate All-Stars head to Michigan

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By Elliott Pratt

CRESTWOOD — South Oldham Little League’s Intermediate All-Star team is heading to the regional tournament in Kalamazoo, Michigan with an unblemished record.

It’s also an untested record. But don’t tell that to the team’s head coach Steve Jones. He sees it in a different way.

“We’re undefeated,” Jones said. “That’s what I would refer to it as.”

South Oldham will represent Kentucky in the Intermediate Baseball Central Regional Tournament in Michigan having not played a single tournament game to get there.

Intermediate baseball has only been a part of Little League in the United States for three years, and 2015 was the first year South Oldham Little League fielded a team.

The Intermediate Baseball Division was first introduced in the United States in 2010 to provide a transition in field dimensions and rules. Instead of the standard Little League 46-foot pitching distance and 60-foot base paths, intermediate baseball uses 50-foot pitching distance and 70-foot base paths to meet halfway to high school and higher size of a 60-foot-6-inch pitching distance and 90-foot base paths.

Valley Sports Little League represented Kentucky last year in the regional tournament and Bowling Green East and West fielded teams last year, but didn’t have enough 13-year-olds to have a team in 2015.

That left Valley Sports and South Oldham as the only two teams left to compete for the regional. When Valley withdrew from competition, South Oldham was crowned district champions.

“I was kind of surprised last Saturday when Valley Sports withdrew because I wanted to play somebody,” Jones said. “You want to understand how we’re looking as a team when you have competition. You can run drills and such, but you don’t know how well it’s set in until you reach competition.

“The goal is for them to play their best. If we get them to play their best and they get beat, then they get beat. But if they go out there and stink it up, then that’s not where we want to be.”

The all-star team comprised from six intermediate teams in South Oldham Little League couldn’t schedule other teams to scrimmage, so they’ve had to settle since late June for practice only when they weren’t dodging the rain.

The team will leave for Kalamazoo Thursday, July 23 and play Michigan at 1 p.m. on July 24. If South Oldham wins the first game, it will play Nebraska the next day. The double-elimination tournament will go through July 30, with the winner advancing to the Little League World Series Intermediate Division in Livermore, California Aug. 2-8.

Though the team representing Kentucky has had no competition to measure up to, assistant coach Brent Issacs likes the depth and talent he’s seen out of the 13 best players from the league. 

“We’re fundamentally sound in every spot,” Isaacs said. “Two deep in most spots. Even though we haven’t gotten to play any games, we’ve done other activities where they’ve been together and gelling very well. It’s a very talented group and we’re excited about the prospects of getting them out there and facing some stiff competition.”

 

 

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