The boys and girls of summer are excited and ready to go, and the managers and coaches uniformly upbeat as Little League baseball and softball heads into the All-Star portion of their seasons.
Both the West Hernando and Kennedy Park Little Leagues will be well represented in a variety of age groups when the All-Stars begin Division 15 play on July 3.
Teams have a chance to advance as far as their talent will take them, through sectional, state, regional and national competition, with a final stop at the international level.
Locally, practice began in earnest this past week for the newly assembled teams. The West Hernando Major baseball manager Warren Bornstein, for one, has his players aiming high. "I've told them to plan on playing ball for a while and to keep one date in mind," he said. "August 26 is when the last game in Williamsport is played and that that's what they should be shooting for. I'm not trying to put any pressure on them and I'll be very proud of them whatever they do, I just think it's important to have goals and why not shoot for the top."
Bornstein has a nice base to work with. He has several players off the team he managed to the regular season Division 15 title recently, and with the infusion of talent from other teams, his All-Stars should be prepared when they open on the road at 7 p.m. July 3 against Crystal River American.
The Kennedy Park Major Boys may yet have something to say about who's going to wind up in Williamsport. This well-balanced team should be tough to beat. The Major boys open the All-Star season at 7 p.m. on July 3 at Kennedy Park against their counterparts from Central Citrus.
The Senior Softball Division is another area that could produce a head-to-head match up between local teams. West Hernando manager Quinn Claussen is pleased with what he has seen so far. "We've got some talent. These girls have a couple of years behind them so they can really play the game. They've got great attitudes and everyone of them deserves to be here."
West Hernando plays its first game in Crystal River at 7 p.m. July 3.
The Kennedy Park Senior Softball team, which drew a first round bye, will cede home-field advantage in their opener when they travel to Inverness to begin their title quest at 7 p.m. on July 4.
Randy Henry, manager of the West Hernando 13-year old All-Stars, believes he has a team that is going to be heard from. "We're going all they way. Well, we're going to try anyway. We've got some good pitching and great fielding, and just an excellent, all-around team. This should be fun."
Johnny Hudson Sr., manager of the Kennedy Park Major Softball team, tips his hand somewhat when he discusses his team. "We're going to surprise some people. We're looking good. I think we've got what it takes to win. This is what the kids have been working for all year and now it's just about here."
At 7 p.m. July 4, the Kennedy Park Major Girls will take on the winner of the July 3 Dixie County/Crystal River game.
The 9- and 10-year olds from both sides of the county will also get a taste of tournament action as well. The Kennedy Park 9-10s will face Shady Hills on the road at 7 p.m. July 10.
The West Hernando 9-10 year old roster has yet to be finalized, but the team will be managed by Randy Cseh and will play its first game at 7 p.m. July 10 against the Crystal River National team.
Little League All-Star rosters
WEST HERNANDO MAJORS BASEBALL
Jason Bornstein, Sean Steele, Derek Franklin, Kurt Senft, Jerad Brotherwood, Bradley Batista, Bruce Chase, Bobby Sizemore, Casey Fischer, David Egan, Steve Koment, Jeremy Hardee, Matt Spooner, Chase Evans. Manager: Warren Bornstein. Coach: Jon Steele.
KENNEDY PARK MAJORS BASEBALL
Breon Davis, Dee Brown, Steven Ferguson, Ozzie Whitten, Joe Johnson, Jonathan Dumas, Hunter Logan, Austin Logan, Chris Garcia, Henry Waddy, Ray Mobley, Ryan Bunch, Demond Pope, Willie Winlest. Manager: Scott Scrivens. Coach: Dan Oliver.
WEST HERNANDO SENIORS SOFTBALL
Mandy Miller, Melissa Maurer, Alicia Barror, Quinn Schuster, Diana Shuster, Haylie Claussen, Yelitza Nieves, D.
J. Myers, Melissa Haas, Kristine D'Acunto, Jennifer Jordan, Jessica Schuster, Brooke Szabo. Manager: Quinn Claussen. Coach: Eileen Lindquist.
KENNEDY PARK SENIORS SOFTBALL
Mabel Brown, J-Von Green, Angela Roundtree, Miranda Riggins, Tarita Ferguson, Shavenna Washington, Nikylia Morgan, Jawonna Morgan, Tanisha Arrington, Tiffany Stephens, Kimberly Waddy, Leoneddra Stewart. Manager: Frances Oliver. Coach: Dena Gembick.
WEST HERNANDO 13 YEAR-OLD BASEBALL
Jon Savarese, Jason Henry, Bobby Sindelar, Chris Caraynoff, John Brennan, Bobby Corey, John Griffin, Joel Grullon, Justin Lassiter, Richard Lisi, Bryan Melko, Keith Morse, Philip Steele, Scott Wruck. Manager: Randy Henry. Coach: Tony Savarese.
KENNEDY PARK MAJORS SOFTBALL
Marsha Stewart, Delillian Harris, Laketa Byrd, Natasha Roach, Bernice Mosby, Antoniette Lawson, Chiquita White, Lashawn Smiley, Joynique Waddy, Sierra Stewart, Keiafa Southall, Kyana Stewart, Shavette Warren. Manager: Johnny Hudson Sr. Coach: Lasonya Scrivens.
KENNEDY PARK 9-10-YEAR-OLD BASEBALL
Jerome Fribley Jr., Tyrone Clark, Jarrud Saunders, Rashaad Smith, Ralph Peyton, Howard Holland Jr., Moses Elder, Bronson Johnson, L. J. Willis, Michael Brown Jr., David Billiadeau, Jonathan Hicks. Manager: Jerome Fribley. Coach: Johnny Hudson Jr.