The sound of baseball being played at the Kyle Bartelson Memorial fields during the summer isn't something that is unusual to the town of Pepperell. But this season there is something special about it. This summer is the inaugural appearance of the all-star team for the newly established Cal Ripken league.
And they're doing pretty well.
In their first year of existence, this Cal Ripken all-star team has already swept through districts and is playing in the state tournament.
With a record of 3-2 in district play, Pepperell made it to the district finals, only to lose to Groton in a tough battle, 9-8. Throughout district play, Pepperell had very tight pitching from John Bell, Brenden Sullivan and Nick White, as well as timely hitting from Matt DeVito, Cam Stairs and Kasey Griffiths, who hit a bomb two-run shot in the fifth inning of the district final game.
And this tremendous play by this team hasn't gone unnoticed. "I'm very happy with where they are," said manager Dave Stairs. "Because I believe if you go game by game, I think we're improving every game, and that's all you can ask for as a coach: giving 100 percent, having fun and improving."
To go along with the terrific play and effort put forth by these ballplayers, there is also a sense of uniformity and friendship that coaches enjoy seeing. "Every one of them wants to play. Every one of them goes to practice and want to get in the game. They give 110 percent. They're all good kids. They
In practice, whether it's fly balls, infield/outfield, simulated situations, or hitting, the objective was always the same: Take care of the task in hand, learn something new, have fun and don't forget the fundamentals.
"It (fundamentals) is absolutely everything," said Stairs. "I think you have to have fundamentals. You have to be able to catch correctly, throw correctly, to run correctly, to field everything. If you don't have fundamentals, you can't play at the next level. Everything else will come if they have fundamentals."
The Pepperell All Stars now begin tournament play. To follow their progress, visit www.gybl.net.