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All-stars take first at Memorial Day tourney

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By Ryan Naus

Practice makes perfect, but the Grant County 7-year-old all-stars didn’t need much practice to be near-perfect.

The all-stars were only able to practice three times before they entered the KABA Memorial Weekend Machine-Pitch Tournament, but came away with four wins and the championship.

“I assumed we’d hit the ball well, but I wasn’t sure about our defense,” coach Steve Hurley said. “We hit the ball extremely well and our defense played pretty solid.”

The all-stars won their first game 18-2 and their second game 17-1, before battling to come out ahead 7-5 in their third game. In the championship game, the team won 20-0 to take first place.

The machine-pitch team was led by Aaron Hurley, who hit .863 and hit two homeruns in the championship game. Matthew Rothwell and Trent Smith each hit a homerun in the tournament. All of the players on the team hit the ball, as the lowest batting average was .500.

“Success breeds success,” Hurley said. “Once the players started seeing they could hit the ball, they went up to the plate thinking they could get a hit and they did. They did really well.”

Aaron Hurley also led the team on defense, playing the pitcher’s position and looking runners back on groundballs, a trait that Hurley doesn’t often see in machine-pitch. Smith played third base for the all-stars and worked with Trey McKenney, who played shortstop, to keep balls in the infield. Isiah Magee also played a solid first base for the all-stars, while Hurley praised Ryan Mitts’ defense behind the plate as the team’s catcher.

The all-stars were helped by 6-year-old Tyler Mitts and 7-year-old Corbin Adams, who stepped in to help the team when two other players didn’t play.

The all-stars travel to Louisville to play in their second tournament on June 28.

“I’m sure we’ll see some stiffer competition, so we’ve got to work harder and hopefully our bats and defense are still there,” Hurley said. “The players were excited when they won and there confidence level went up. It came together for them.”

The team was made up of Magee, Adams, Smith, Tyler Mitts, Austin Creech, McKenney, Hurley, Owen McKinney, Ryan Mitts, Rothwell, Joey Miskell and Benjamin Gallus. They were coached by Hurley, Brian Magee, Devin Hurley and honorary coach Colton Beach.