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Kids' hopes on deck

March 18, 2002|BY SCOTT BUTKI

Desiree Griffin, 10, was disappointed with her tryout Saturday for the National Little League.

"I was not as good as the other kids," she said.

She'll find out soon enough whether her effort was good enough to earn her a spot on one of National's five major league teams.

Players will be drafted Thursday based on their tryout performances. Those not selected for the major league teams will play on the minor league teams.

Griffin was one of about 50 children, ranging in age from 9 to 12, trying out Saturday for 28 spots on the major league teams, League President Angie Southerland said.

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Players will have another chance to try out before the Thursday draft.

On Saturday, team coaches and managers stood on the National League's Staley Park field, watching and taking notes as players tried to hit balls off a pitching machine and demonstrate their fielding and running abilities.

Waiting his turn, Dulaney Williams, 9, said he was nervous about how well he would play. He wasn't alone.

"I'm just as nervous as he is," said his mother, Sally. "This is as hard for the parents as for them."

Connor Grimsley, 9, said he was trying out because he likes baseball.

His father, Rob Grimsley, watched from a front bleacher row as Connor swung at the balls thrown by the pitching machine. It was Connor's first time before such a machine, his father said.

As Connor swung and missed, Grimsley shouted advice.

"Choke up a bit, Connor," Grimsley said.

Connor adjusted his grip on the bat and took a few more swings until it was someone else's turn at bat.

"It was probably a lot of nerves," said after watching Connor's efforts.

Grimsley said his son may try out again Monday or just play on a minor league team and try for the major's next year. The decision is up to Connor, he said.

Casey Miller, 9, said he was not really nervous about how he would do on the field. It was others he was concerned about.

"I am worried I am going to get hit in the face with a ball," he said.

League opening day is April 13.

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