MIFFLINBURG — It’s been a long seven days since Mifflinburg’s Major Division All-Star baseball team won the District 13 title, but the team’s 13 players are more than ready to step onto the field and throw the ball rolling. PA Little League Section 3 tournament.
The tournament begins tonight, with Mifflinburg and District 12 champion Keystone kicking off at 5:30 p.m. at Pottsville Rotary Little League Field.
“The boys are ready to go. We’ve had a couple good practice days to keep them fresh and relaxed, and they’ve been competing in practice so they’ll see the pitch live,” Mifflinburg manager Chris Snyder said. “They are definitely ready to play a game.”
Ten players on the team were part of last year’s 8-10 Mifflinburg team that finished second in the state, and that only bolsters the team’s confidence in the sections.
“They are confident and they know that as long as they are playing their type of game they should be fine. They are not worried. A lot of them have been there before, so they know what comes with (advancing in the playoffs),” Snyder said. “Experience is really valuable. They know that a bad game doesn’t end your season. You can have a bad game and still recover and keep going.
“They don’t go too high or too low. If they lose, they are not defeated and do not go down. They know it takes two losses to end it. They have a lot of confidence, especially with the pitchers we saw last week,” added the Mifflinburg manager.
The Mifflinburg players making their second straight section trip are starters (since last week’s District 13 final) Hayden Showalter (CF), Brennen Snyder (P/SS), Lukas Shaffer (C/P), Andrew Yerger (1B), Hudson Troup (RF), Vaughn Yoder (SS/P), Callen Hommel (LF), as well as substitutes Brayden Resseguie, Brady Threet and Jaxon Kaskie.
Rounding out the squad are starters Kolton Kmett (3B) and Hunter Bolick (2B), as well as substitute player Collin Brandt.
Throwing solid and hitting ground balls are key to Mifflinburg in Section 3 play.
“We need solid pitching, not walking hitters, and I believe hitting the ball on the ground and making hard ground takeouts instead of easy balls (that’s going to be key for us),” said Snyder. “If we can knock people out and hit some hard ground balls, I think we’ll be fine.
“It’s something we’ve been preaching to the boys since the districts started. Anyone can catch an easy ball, but not everyone wants to end up in front of a smoky ground ball,” Snyder added.
Another key for Mifflinburg entering the tournament is the versatility of their players.
Of course, the majority of the team’s players have returned to the positions they held in last year’s state tournament, but manager Snyder said his players need to be able to play in different positions.
“A lot of our kids – we can move anywhere on the pitch. It’s not like we have kids who are one-position players. We have a very versatile team where our boys can play anywhere,” said the Mifflinburg manager. “I have 10 guys that I can move anywhere, and we would be fine, which we might have to do depending on how the sections are going.
“With our short days, we’ll be using multiple pitchers and moving players around the ballpark,” Snyder added.
Due to playing travel ball, some of Mifflinburg’s players know some of Keystone’s best players, but that familiarity doesn’t make much of a difference to manager Snyder coming into today’s game .
” I do not care. Any day, anything can happen. If a boy wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, anything can happen,” he said. “They’re only 11 and 12, so anything can happen.
“One thing I know is that Keystone will be a very well trained team,” added the Mifflinburg manager.