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Federal fever lingers the day after

August 13, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

Federal Little League slide show

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Most of Natalie Karlen's body paint had worn off Tuesday, but the excitement about her brother's Little League team hadn't gone away.

For Monday's game, Natalie had written "Nick" on one leg and "Karlen" on the other.

She was among the cheering Hagerstown fans in Bristol, Conn., where the Federal Little League 11-12 All-Stars won the Mid-Atlantic Regional and a spot in the Little League World Series.

A small portion of that crowd -- parents, siblings, other Federal players -- unwound at Beef O'Brady's north of Hagerstown on Tuesday, just back from Bristol.

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"We're all like one big, happy family," said Heather Barnhart, the league's events director.

The group included some youths shown on TV with "M-A-R-Y-L-A-N-D" painted on their chests.

Cole Conrad, 12, was the second A. His 9-year-old brother Max was the N.

Cole said the temperature got down to the 50s, but it didn't dampen the fun of seeing Federal win, especially when Zane Schreiber hit a grand slam.

Chookie Karlen, the mother of Nick and Natalie, figured that about 100 parents, siblings and other supporters were in the stands Monday.

Federal started its World Series run by winning four games in the district tournament in Washington County.

From there, the all-stars won four games in the state tournament in Easton and six in the Mid-Atlantic Regional in Bristol.

That's meant a lot of traveling for the baseball families and a lot of text messaging to keep in touch with players.

"I think I'm going on adrenaline," said Chookie Karlen, who will leave for the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., on Thursday.

Natalie said she got to her hotel at about 11:40 p.m., after Monday's game, then woke up at about 5:40 a.m. Tuesday for the six-hour drive back to Hagerstown.

League President Mike Conrad said it was thrilling to know Federal is one of 16 remaining teams out of more than 7,000 that competed for a World Series berth.

"It's a lot of proud moments," he said. "It's an unbelievable experience for the team and the league."

Chookie Karlen said she likes that her son and his teammates have carried themselves well, impressing their hosts in details as small as keeping their rooms clean.

"No matter what they're going to do, they've got the talent to succeed," she said.

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