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South Mountain set for states

July 18, 2003|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

BOONSBORO - John Slick, a first baseman and catcher on the South Mountain 11 & 12 All-Star baseball team, put it in proper perspective.

"He said, 'There are over a thousand kids who play Little League in our district, and only 13 are going,'" South Mountain manager Terry Hartle said. "If you look at it that way, it's a big accomplishment. There are a whole lot of good players in this area."

Being one of those select 13 players probably made that math calculation a little more enjoyable for Slick.

South Mountain - which won the Maryland District 1 11 & 12 All-Stars Tournament with a 4-2 win over Sharpsburg on Tuesday - is one of seven district champions headed to the double-elimination state tournament, which begins this weekend at East Wicomico Field in Salisbury, Md.

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South Mountain (6-1) opens against the District 4 winner at 10:45 a.m. Saturday and is guaranteed of at least another game Sunday - a winners' bracket matchup against the District 2-District 5 winner at 4:30 or a losers' bracket game against that loser at 2. The tournament concludes with the championship game Wednesday.

At this point, the District 1 champs aren't overly concerned about winning another tourney.

"You win one game at a time," Hartle said. "The ultimate goal is to take these kids to states and win one game. Then you think about winning again.

"It's just a big thrill to go to the state tournament."

South Mountain has advanced to states four of the last seven years. Its best result was a second-place finish in 1997. It went 0-2 in its last appearance, in 2001.

"We just want to try our hardest and do as good as we can," said shortstop/pitcher Adam Chambers, one of five returning players on the South Mountain squad. "I'm pretty excited. I've been thinking about this all season. I was even thinking about it last year."

Second baseman/shortstop Shane Lowery said the team's strength is "probably our defense, and then we get people on base and people hit us in."

Because the teams are coming in from all sides of the state, and that even Hartle isn't sure which teams they are, the manager doesn't exactly know what South Mountain will face - other than sharp baseball.

"I've been there and have seen the caliber of ball. It's tough," Hartle said. "The pitching isn't overwhelming with speed or anything, but ... the accuracy. The kids know how to work the corners. You meet up with some real challenging pitchers."

The state champion will earn a berth in the East Regional tournament in Bristol, Conn. The winner there heads to Williamsport, Pa., for the Little League World Series, described as "every kid's dream" by Hartle.

"I think we'll do pretty good," Chambers said. "We've got good fundamentals. ... But we haven't even talked that far ahead."

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