MOUNT VERNON — The Mount Vernon 12U All-Stars are working toward one team goal. Make it to the state tournament for the 3rd time in a row as a group. Many players on the team have been preparing for this upcoming week in July since January and even the day before the Fourth of July, they were working hard to represent Ohio Little League District 5 in the state tournament
The All-Stars have a great chance to prevail on their goal. Many of the players on the team have made the state tournament in previous years, and this year’s squad has picked up some great additions through top talents on Mount Vernon Baseball Association recreational teams. A big advantage that will aid in their journey will be pitching.
“That was one of our main focuses this year, was to develop the pitching and get kids in there,” said coach Corey Firebaugh. The coaches assembled a very well-rounded group of arms as a result of their efforts, boasting six to seven kids that can be put on the bump. “You have to be super deep if you want to try and make a run at winning that tournament,” he said.
The arms of the players are evident, as practice progressed these young men were slinging the baseball around the diamond. Throws from the deep outfield were making it to the plate perfectly, agile double plays were being turned and teammates were quick to pick one another up when errors occurred.
While playing baseball should be a lot of fun the players still understand the opportunity that lies in front of them and the community that they are playing for on their quest for a state tournament berth.
“We just gotta stay strong and always give effort,” said infielder Payton Hempfield. “It feels pretty great to know that you’re representing your own town. It’s just a great feeling to have.”
Third basemen and catcher Wes Neighbarger talked about the team’s goals and mindset heading into the district tournament.
“We always set a goal for July,” he said. And although the group has made it past this point two years in a row, he understands as a team they need to remained level headed. “We’re going to put the past behind us. … We gotta act like we haven’t been there before.”
Coach Firebaugh reminds the players the dangers of complacency, and with the thought that someone else is always working harder is in his players heads, they are always striving for get better. Each kid brings his own flavor in the lineup. Hempfield is a second baseman with agile hands, typically batting leadoff. He uses his speed to throw off opposing defenses on the base pads.
Zac Clow plays shortstop and bats second. Zac displays a strong work ethic, one of the team’s better hitters and is always looking for ways to improve his game. Camden Firebaugh is commonly known to his teammates by ‘Camden “Jose” Firebaugh’ due to his tranquil playing style, similar to Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez. Camden plays first and is in the pitching rotation. Wes Neighbarger plays catcher and thirdbase. He is dubbed as the team’s power hitter and bolsters the team’s identity with his mental toughness.
Caden Theibert is an outfielder and catcher. He is a power hitter, smacking several home runs throughout the recreational season and loves the sport of baseball. Brysen and Will Armstrong are outfielders. The twins, although they may have different physical traits, are both great team players and are “yes sir” kind of guys, being great gel for the teams mold. Hayden Higgins is an outfielder and in the pitching rotation. Hayden is the team’s only lefty hitter and holds one of the team’s hottest bats complimented by his exceptional speed. Ethan Yost is a pitcher and infielder. Ethan throws a lot of strikes on the mound and has a myriad of skillsets allowing him to be a Swiss army knife for the team’s infield. Grayson Brokaw is a utility guy, playing outfield, catcher and second base. Grayson is always finding ways to improve getting extra hitting reps on a nightly basis, he is an appreciative and selfless player. Mason Holt plays rightfield and third base. Mason tracks fly balls well and is a power and contact hybrid hitter. Riley Pilotti plays outfield and second base. Riley had a phenomenal recreational season and is a well rounded athlete that is excited to play the game. Skylar Lawrence is one of the pitchers. Skylar has a cannon as an arm, is described as lightening fast and is a powerful hitter.
Both coaches and players are excited for the chance to achieve their goal as District Champs and represent the community of Mount Vernon well.
The Mount Vernon 12u Allstars will host the District 5 tournament July 10-13 at Phillips Park. Mount Vernon Allstars are scheduled to face Guernsey County on Wednesday, July 10, at 6 p.m.