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Conococheague tries for more of same at states

July 15, 2009|By DAN KAUFFMAN

Two years ago, the Conococheague Little League 9-10 All-Stars captured the Maryland state title.

While none of the players on this year's Conococheague squad were part of that championship team, they have the same aspirations as they travel to Salisbury, Md., for the state tournament beginning Saturday at Willards Little League.

"I think they have the drive to want to win," Conococheague manager Mick Byers said. "Every night at practice they give me 100 percent."

Conococheague will begin play in the double-elimination tournament by facing District 6 champion South Caroline on Saturday at 12:45 p.m.

Conococheague mowed through the District 1 tournament with a 5-0 record, outscoring its opponents by a staggering 65 runs (71-6).

The team's ace, Isaac Schlotterbeck, will take the mound in the opener.

"I'm just going to tell him to do what he's been doing, throw strikes and everything else will take care of itself," Byers said.

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Jake Arnone teams with Schlotterbeck to give Conococheague a potent 1-2 punch on the mound.

"They have different styles. Isaac throws over the top and Jake has a three-quarters arm slot and it throws the hitters off," Byers said. "They both throw changeups ... and they both throw the ball hard."

The lineup is a mixture of speed, contact hitting and power. Robert Carr and Levi Taylor are likely to fill the top two spots and will try to set the table for sluggers Arnone and Schlotterbeck.

"My lineup is set up where I have speed and contact hitters 1 and 2 and then my power and RBI guys right behind them," Byers said. "I have guys who can hit home runs. There's no spot where there's a hole, they can hit it out at any time. If we have guys on base, there's the possibility of scoring runs all through the lineup."

Schlotterbeck hit three homers in district play, while Arnone, Gage Kyler and Zack Carpenter each hit one. Kyler hit seventh in the order during district play and Carpenter hit ninth.

Conococheague does not rely solely on the long ball to produce runs.

"We play small-ball," Byers said. "We hit singles, run the bases hard and we'll bunt whenever we need to. We try to manufacture runs any way we can get them. Our main objective is to win."

Myers, whose team made just two errors in its five district games, said defense will continue to be a focus.

"In the outfield, (center fielder) Trevor Knode was outstanding," Byers said. "We're fundamentally sound. I stress defense big in practice. If somebody makes a mistake we'll go over it three or four times so we can fix it."

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