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Little League winners have Hancock hopping

July 14, 2008|By HEATHER KEELS

HANCOCK - It has been four long decades since Hancock has sent a Little League team to the state championship tournament.

This year, the town is sending two.

In an excitement-packed week that sent the tiny town into jubilation, both its 9-10 league and senior league all-star teams beat their toughest rivals to earn District 1 championship titles.

The reaction, coaches say, has been overwhelming.

"It's been crazy up here," said Dave Faith, manager of the 9-10 all-star team. "We're such a small town, and so many times Hancock ... they might win a game, they might win two games in tournament play and then they're done. I think the community just got used to that, and for this to happen, it's been great."

Now, with the state tournament less than a week away, Hancock residents are funneling their excitement into an effort to help the teams raise the $15,000 to $20,000 it could cost for the players and their families to attend the tournament, Hancock Little League President Ron Younker said.

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On Saturday, the teams raised about $2,400 through a spaghetti dinner, $400 through a bake sale and $300 through a car wash, Younker said. They have also received donations from several individuals and local businesses, bringing the total raised so far to about $5,000, he said.

The tournament begins Saturday and could run through July 24 or 25, Younker said. The 9-10 team will play in Hughesville, Md., while the senior team will play in Laurel, Md., Faith said.

If the teams don't stay long enough to use the money raised, organizers will put it in a bank account for use to support future tournament trips, Younker said.

Between gas prices and lodging, players' families faced the challenge of coming up with $600 to $900 with only about two weeks' notice, Younker said.

"It's kind of tough for people who don't have a nice savings account going," he said, adding that he wants the experience to be memorable for the players and their families, not stressful.

"This is possibly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all these parents and all these kids," he said.

One Hancock family faces double the excitement - and stress. Joe and Kathy Lashley have two sons going to the tournament: Darren, 11, is a catcher on the 9-10 team, and Joe, 14, is a utility player on the senior team.

"Right now it's kind of nerve-racking," Kathy said Sunday.

She and her husband are going to attempt to make the hour drive back and forth to see both boys' games, but depending on how things go, they might have to split up and videotape the games in order to support them both.

Darren, who goes by the nickname "Tick," said he was "pumped" that both he and his brother would get to play in the tournament.

"At my brother's (championship) game, I was so nervous that he was going to lose because it was going back and forth," Darren said.

Joe said he knew he was on a good team but didn't know what would happen in that final game.

"We got the base hits at the right time, we scored the winning run," he said. "You were up on top of the world. You just won everything."

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