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Local youths play ball

July 16, 2006|by PEPPER BALLARD

HAGERSTOWN

Snow cones and french fries passed hands in the stands of West End Little League Saturday night as parents, coaches and friends cheered on players in the Maryland District 1 11-12 Tournament.

The West End Little League All-Stars defeated the Valley Little League All-Stars, 15-7. West End will play in the state tournament beginning Saturday at Arbutus Middle School south of Catonsville, Md.

Dave Mehrling, 38, of Hagerstown, said he was out to support Valley, but said that "whoever wins the tournament, then everybody roots for them."

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There was no shortage of rooting Saturday.

Bat cracks were followed by squeals, cheers and whistles. Baseline coaches told batters to square their shoulders, and patted them when they made a good hit. Fielders chattered, "Batter, batter, batter" as players circled, sprinting, around the bases.

Spectators lined the field, some standing in spots blocked from play. Others sat behind the outfield, raising their hands over their foreheads to block the sun.

A Maugansville senior league baseball coach stood with his fingers linked in the fencing, watching not because he knew any of the players, but because he likes watching a good baseball game.

"I just love to see nice ability on the part of young people in competitive games," said David Forsyth, 54. "When you see ability with some of these teams showing PONY League or Junior League abilities, it's just amazing."

The bleachers where Forsyth stood were tied with yellow and green balloons, the colors of West End's team, and taped with posters cheering on each player.

Mark Mades, 43, a coach for the Valley 7-8 All-Stars, said he has enjoyed watching his players move up from T-ball.

"In this area, everybody knows everybody from other little leagues," Mades said. He said that the teams are competitive, but support each other, too.

Ahmere Ware, 11, of Hagerstown, played for the American Little League All-Stars. He said he came out Saturday to show sportsmanship and cheer on his cousin, Austin Scott, the catcher for West End.

Evan Jones, 18, of Hagerstown, joked that Ware was trying to win tickets to Scott's future Major League baseball games.

For Alicia Jones, 16, of Williamsport, Saturday's game was a family affair.

"My family members have always played for West End," she said. "It's a family thing to come down to the West End and support the team. You get to be with everybody."

The same is true for Shoney Reasner, 31, who said his West End team won Districts when he was 12, playing pitcher and shortstop. He now coaches at the field.

"Most of the fans probably played ball here, too," Reasner said.

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