Sports: Junior players hope for all-star status
June 14, 2006
RAF FELTWELL — Nearly every kid who dons a baseball uniform dreams of one day playing before the nation in a premier event. A group of local youngsters are working toward their chance.
The Dodgers, composed of children of RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall airmen, ended its regular season with a 9-1 record in the London Youth Baseball League.
The team is still meeting twice a week at the RAF Feltwell baseball field as up to eight of the players are expected to be selected for a 12-man London Youth Baseball League All-Star team.
Making the All-Stars is the first step toward the Junior League World Series, one step up from Little League. The Junior League World Series has been held every year since 1981 in Taylor, Mich., for players 13 to 14 years old.
The Dodgers twice braved snow on the diamond as they started practice in February and traveled roughly five hours round trip to play at RAF Daws Hill in Northwest London.
“We just had a great group of kids who had a great time this season,” said manager Chris Frederick, who serves at RAF Mildenhall. “There was no animosity, no cliques, no arguing. All these kids played hard together and even when they lost, they played hard.”
The All-Star team will travel to Kutno, Poland, next month and compete against teams from 11 countries across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
“We know it will be fun and a great opportunity to play other countries,” said Marshall Webb, a 14-year-old eighth-grader who has played baseball for nine years. “We have a great team with quality players who really know their positions.
“We’re going to go out and play hard.”
The winner of the tournament in Poland will advance to Michigan and face the winner out of the Asia-Pacific bracket on Aug. 13.
Frederick said if his players continue to work hard and play like they did in the regular season, they will have a solid chance to capture the title in Poland.
“These kids play until the very last out. That’s the way we teach them and that’s how they play,” Frederick said. “It’s been great to watch these kids improve over the season and now it’s going to be exciting to play against so much talent. A lot of these kids don’t realize yet how special this is.”