2010-07-28 / Sports

Local all-stars go for regional crown

By LARRY HILLIARD Ledger Sports Editor larry@gaffneyledger.com

The Gaffney High Major League Cal Ripken All-Star state champions plan to hit their way to the top - or at least to the Southeast Regional title.

“The key to our success will be our hitting,” manager Bob Humphries said.

The Southeast Regional begins Thursday in Lakeland, Fla.. The local all-stars will be one of the first teams on the field with a 10 a.m. matchup with the Virginia state champions from South Augusta.

With a win Thursday, Gaffney will play a winner’s bracket game on Friday. A loss means Gaffney would be facing elimination in a game Saturday.

But Humphries is thinking positively.

“The first game is big,” he said. “We want to be in the winner’s bracket.”

Players and family members were expected to arrive in Florida on Tuesday, in time for tonight’s Icebreaker dinner for the teams.

But the team’s preparation began a week or two ago.

Humphries said the team’s focus has been on fundamentals as well as taking advantage of the ball park’s all-grass infield.

“Playing on grass is something new for us,” he said. “We’ve been working on bunting because it may be a tool we can use. Things will be much slower on a grass infield.”

Landon Batchler, who is known for his ability to hit his spots, is expected to start tomorrow.

He be surrounded in the field by Dillion Gibson and Alec Spencer at first base, Trent Saterwhite at second, Damian Eubanks at short and Luke Lyons will play third.

Matthew Overton, Andrew Morris, Noah McAbee, Noah Hamrick and Quan Allen are the outfielders.

Wesley Humphries will be behind the plate.

Gaffney captured the state championship with an exciting 2-1 win over rival Blacksburg. Morris was the hero in the game, scoring the game-winning run in the fifth inning.

Twelve teams throughout the Southeast are expected to compete in the tournament.

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