Little Leaguers on their way

July 24, 1997


Staff Writer

Twelve-year-old Steve Weaver said he was nervous when he walked up to home plate with the bases loaded last Saturday in the Little League District 1 Championship game against the Hagerstown National All-Stars.

But then, the South Mountain Little League player had been nervous when he went to bat with the bases loaded against Conococheague earlier in the tournament.

Each time, he hit a grand slam.

On Saturday, Weaver of Boonsboro and his South Mountain teammates will take the field again, when Hagerstown hosts the Maryland State Little League Baseball All-Star Tournament. Eight teams will compete in the double-elimination event at the National Little League field at Staley Park.


About 200 Little League fans from the Boonsboro area are expected to show up to support the team, which is making its first state tournament appearance in the league's 27-year history, said South Mountain Manager Delbert House.

On Saturday at 6 p.m., South Mountain will begin its quest for the state title by playing St. Mary's Little League from Southern Maryland, said Little League District 1 Administrator Jay Stouffer.

The district covers 17 Little Leagues in Washington, Allegany and Garrett counties.

"The kids are pumped. I think they have an excellent chance," said House, whose team won the tournament berth with a 17-10 win over National last Saturday.

The state tournament will run through the following Thursday or Friday, depending on whether the team in the winners' bracket is upset by a team in the losers' bracket on Thursday, Stouffer said.

If it rains, the tournament schedule will be extended.

The state champion will move into the East Regional tournament, and will have a chance to advance to next month's Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.

For 11 of South Mountain's 12 team members, this will be the last chance to win the state tournament because it's the last year they're eligible to play in Little League, House said.

Little League ball is played by youths ages 9 through 12.

That gives the team extra incentive, said Nathan Kaetzel, 12, of Boonsboro.

Some team members said they were confident the team would fare well in the tournament.

"I feel that we can make it at least two games, but we need to get some runs in the first inning," Weaver said.

Nathan Himes, 12, who will pitch on Saturday, said the team needs to work hard and avoid errors.

South Mountain had three practices scheduled this week. Today, team members will attend the kickoff banquet at the Elks Lodge on Robinwood Drive for members of the participating teams and their families.

Hundreds of Little Leaguers' family members and friends are due in town for the tournament.

Opening ceremonies will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Stouffer said. There is no charge to attend the tournament.

National Little League's field is behind Potterfield Pool off Frederick Street in Hagerstown.

Parking will be available in the lots of the Washington County Board of Education, behind the AMVETS at the old dress factory and, after noon, at the Lumber Yard across Frederick Street, Stouffer said. Parking also will be permitted on both sides of Commonwealth Avenue.

The last time Washington County hosted the state tournament was in 1990. American Little League of Hagerstown won the tournament, which was held at the Conococheague Little League field in Williamsport.

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