They may not feel that old, but members of the Mt. Carmel 12-year-old all-star baseball team have now played their last official games at Ed Walter Park. Now it’s their turn to represent the city in the national Little League tournament.
Manager Greg Odom compares it to high school baseball.
“This is like your senior season,” Odom told his kids. “This is the Williamsport (the Pennsylvania site of the World Series) year. So, have fun.”
Odom’s team opens District 1 tournament play in Olney tonight at 7:30 p.m. against the two-time defending champion hosts. Salem and Lawrenceville open tourney play at 5:30 p.m.
The double-elimination tournament could stretch until Friday, with the winner getting a berth in the Section 1 tournament next week.
“We’ve played all season long, and a lot of them have played travel ball too,” said Odom of his squad, which has played 15 regular-season Major League games plus for some as many as 18 more with the travel team. “They’re ready to get after it.”
Mt. Carmel hasn’t won a District championship since 2006, which is also the last year they went to the state tournament, bowing in two competitive games in Naperville.
The last three District champs (Olney the last two years and Salem in 2010) have also won the Sectional tournament to advance to state.
What's the best part of this year's club? “I think it’s our defense,” Odom said. “We’re pretty good in batting and pitching, but we’re probably better on defense.”
Jake Whetstone, who threw a perfect game during the regular season, will get the start on the mound tonight against Olney. “He’s pitched the best, so we’ll start him out, and go from there,” Odom said.
There’s some power in the lineup as well. “Blake Kight is probably our power hitter,” said Odom of the 12-year-old who hit five home runs during the regular season, plus two more as part of the traveling squad. Avery Calverley, Logan Durham, Wade Ruth and Drew Arnott have also shown some power, Odom said.
Two-time defending champion Olney “usually has the best team out of all of us,” Odom said. During the travel season, Olney won a single-game matchup. Mt. Carmel was 2-2 against Lawrenceville, and did not play Salem.
On Tuesday, the losers of tonight’s games play an elimination game at 5:30 p.m. followed by the winner’s matchup at 7:30 p.m.
Mt. Carmel’s other two all-star teams, comprised of 11 and 10 year olds, open district play on Saturday.