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Preview: Prescott All-Stars favored in 11U tourney at Ziegler Field

Little League

The District 10 - 11U All-Stars Tournament kicks off June 23-27 at Ziegler Field, Prescott. First pitch is at 7 p.m. (Doug Cook/Courier)

The District 10 - 11U All-Stars Tournament kicks off June 23-27 at Ziegler Field, Prescott. First pitch is at 7 p.m. (Doug Cook/Courier)

PRESCOTT — The 2018 Arizona District 10 Little League 11-and-Under All-Star Tournament features only three teams, including Prescott, Prescott Valley and Chino Valley. Nevertheless, the tourney should be competitive.

Normally, the 11U bracket showcases seven squads. However, this year, the district’s other members apparently didn’t have the requisite roster numbers to field 11U teams, and focused on piecing together clubs for Majors and Minors All-Stars instead.

At 7 p.m. Saturday, June 23, at Ziegler Field, 1185 Commerce

DISTRICT 10 11U ALL-STARS TOURNEY

When: June 23-27

Where: Ziegler Field, Prescott

First Pitch: 7 p.m.

Teams: Prescott, Prescott Valley, Chino Valley

Drive, 11U double-elimination tournament host Prescott opens against Prescott Valley (Game 1). By luck of the draw, Chino Valley garnered the bye and will face the winner of Prescott-Prescott Valley at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 24 (Game 2).

The loser of Game 1 will take on the loser of Game 2 in an elimination game at 7 p.m. Monday, June 25 (Game 3), while the Game 2 winner awaits the consolation finalist for the championship contest at 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 26 (Game 4). If the consolation finalist wins Game 4, the if-necessary title game will be played at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 27.

The District 10 All-Stars champion qualifies for the 11U State Tournament beginning Saturday, July 14, at Fiesta Park in Mesa.

What follows are District 10 11U All-Star team tournament preview capsules for Prescott, Prescott Valley and Chino Valley.

PRESCOTT

Prescott’s All-Stars may be the team to beat in the district round, primarily because of its pitching depth. Pitchers Cooper Kasun, Adrian Sanderford and Zane Gaul form the core.

Nine players from Prescott’s 2017 Minors All-Stars team (ages 8-10) that placed third at state are on this 11U club. Prescott played a simulated game June 13 at Ziegler Field to prepare its hitters to see live pitching again.

“We have some experience and we’ve had some success, and that’s real important,” said Prescott 11U All-Stars manager Terry Magnett, who coached last year’s Minors All-Stars. “We’re a really good hitting team, through and through, from what I’m seeing. And we have four to five very strong pitchers. We’re pretty deep with our pitching.”

In the infield, Prescott has Jacob Patterson starting at catcher, with Dominic Cruz and Mason Oberan backing him up. Sanderford and Gaul will split time at first base, depending on who’s pitching, and Cooper Magnett and Joshua Police share duties at second base. Ethan Warren and Magnett will likely split at shortstop, while Trace Overton and Patterson do the same at third base.

Colton Champion and Coley Fundalewicz, Kaden Greenfield, Kasun, Overton and Police will take their turns minding the outfield spots. Champion and Cruz are the lone 10-year-olds on the team. The rest are 11.

Manager Magnett said Prescott Little League’s coaches use the regular season as a “tryout” for those players who sign up to be considered for the All-Star team. Magnett has coached players on each of the three tournament squads because of his work with the Prescott Rebels traveling team.

“It’s definitely different than last year, when we had [more] teams in it,” Magnett added about the 2017 11U All-Star tournament bracket. “It will be a dogfight between our three teams. It’s a nice little rivalry we all have going on.”

PRESCOTT VALLEY

Prescott Valley’s All-Stars enter the 11s tournament with motivation, considering that most of their players finished runner-up to Prescott in the District 10 Minors All-Star Tournament last year, losing in the final inning of the title contest.

PV Little League’s coaches recommended players to fill the 2018 All-Star team’s roster, which finds strength in its hitting, up and down the order.

“It’s just a great bunch of kids that have come together as a team,” Prescott Valley assistant coach Paul Dunn said.

In the infield, 10-year-olds Brenton Keppel and the ambidextrous Matix Dunn will rotate at catcher. First baseman Matt Hepperle, second baseman/leadoff hitter Isaiah Avila, shortstop Taylor Keppel and third baseman Brayden Munday fill out the starting spots.

On the mound, 11-year-old ace and cleanup hitter Caden Randall, southpaw Matix Dunn, Taylor Keppel and Matt Hepperle form the rotation. In the outfield, Matix Dunn plays center, Mikey Jones roams in right, and Sebastian Vanderploeg’s in left. Logan Tyson, Nick Martin and Dillon Williams are utility players.

Paul Dunn, speaking on behalf of manager Matt Hepperle, said Prescott has “a bunch of great athletes and great coaches.” Several boys on both teams compete for the Prescott Rebels travel team, which manager Hepperle and Dunn help coach.

“Prescott is the team to beat,” Dunn said. “It will be fun to play those guys again.”

CHINO VALLEY

Half of Chino Valley 11U All-Stars manager Adam Schuster’s 12-player roster is comprised of boys on his Chino Valley Little League champion Valley Pump team. The six other players come from the town’s other league squads. League coaches determined the All-Star roster.

In the infield, Ceth Ryan and Ivan Schuster should split time at catcher. First/third baseman Wyatt Lemons, second baseman Teagan DeBono, 10, and third baseman Alex Furr are locks, with Freddy Garcia, Ivan Schuster and Cesar Vasquez, 10, likely sharing shortstop duties.

At pitcher, Ivan Schuster’s the ace, followed by Blake Roskopf, 10, and Angelo Lynch, all of whom double as infielders, and Vasquez. Garcia, Furr and Lemons are available to pitch, too. In the outfield, Kai Holmes is in center, with 10-year-old Cole Peterson, Emilio Rocha, DeBono, Garcia, Ryan and Vasquez in the mix.

At the top of the batting lineup, Ivan Schuster should lead off, followed by Lynch at No. 2, Roskopf at No. 3 and Furr at cleanup.

“We’ve got a good base for hitting – we’ve got some kids with some power, we’ve got some kids with speed [on the base paths],” manager Schuster said. “Our defense is solid, depending on who’s pitching and catching.”

As the only one of the three teams not playing an opener in this tournament, manager Schuster added that he will have more time to prepare, and scout Prescott and Prescott Valley when they play June 23.

“It’s pretty huge for us to have a bye knowing that whatever team wins they play us the next night,” he added, noting that his team’s an underdog. “Essentially, if both of those teams throw their ace, because they would need two days’ rest after that, we might not have to see their best pitchers the first game. It just depends.”