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Sikeston 12-year-olds heading to Maryland

Sunday, August 5, 2007

(Photo)
Sikeston 12-year-old All Star baseball coach Rod Anderson talks to the players.
SIKESTON -- When the Sikeston 12-year-old all-stars compete in the Cal Ripken World Series on Saturday, the experience shouldn't be anything new.

The all-stars, who will kick off the World Series in Aberdeen, Md., against the Southeast Regional representative, competed in the 10-year-old World Series two years ago in Russellville, Ark.

While the team finished 0-2 in the series that year, coach Rod Anderson thinks the past experience will help this year's group, which is essentially comprised of the same players.

"I think that experience will help us and it has helped us up to this point," said Anderson. "The main thing is they realized how hard it was to get there. Once you get there anything can happen. I think we'll do a lot better this time around."

The World Series will be held at Cal Ripken Field. Numerous festivities accompany the series, including speeches from Cal Ripken Jr. and his brother Billy Ripken.

Sikeston will be representing the Midwest Plains Regional. The team also won the regional last year as 11-year-olds, but the World Series is not offered for that age group.

Sikeston rolled through the regional this season, held in Lamar, Colo. The all-

stars defeated Mineral Area 16-1 in the championship game, the fourth time the team beat the MABA all-stars this season.

"Going in I feel as confident as I can," said Anderson. "We looked pretty solid at the regional. We played Mineral Area four times in the last three weeks, but they were scrappy and they never quit. That's one of the things that makes Missouri baseball look pretty good.

"I just think that our chances are pretty good. Everything's clicking right now. Our pitching was absolutely great at regionals and state. At the state tournament we weren't really hitting the ball until the very last game. We kind of busted loose a little bit that game. Then when we were in Lamar, we came out a little slow, but we got the bats going the rest of the tournament."

The all-stars have had a solid three years together, posting a cumulative record of 29-3, including 8-0 so far this season.

Anderson said the team has been playing together since they were 6-years-

old.

"They know each other well and they feed off each other," said Anderson. "In the regional championship game Tyler Anderson and Brandon Goodwin, two of our top hitters, didn't have very good games. But the rest of the boys picked it up and we had four different boys hit home runs. That's what it's going to take. If somebody isn't having a good game, then other boys will have to step up. When we get there, everybody's going to have to be on the same page."

So far, being on the same page has not been a problem.

Anderson, coach Anderson's son, has been an offensive juggernaut through state and regional play, batting .550 with five home runs and 10 RBIs. He was named the regional MVP.

Taylor Scott is batting .550 with one home run and a team-leading 11 RBIs.

Tyler Neal is batting .520 with one homer and seven RBIs while Brandon Goodwin is hitting .400 with three home runs and seven RBIs.

Lucas Houchin, Connor Landers and Josh Hampton each have one home run and .300-plus averages. Trey Tigart has a home run and is undefeated on the mound.

Zach Downing and Michael Burdin have took advantage when Anderson calls their number, going 5-10 with an RBI and 3-7 with two RBIs, respectively.

Cord Sheehy is a solid defensive infielder. Drew Harper has seen limited action while recovering from an arm injury.

As a team, the group is batting .388 with seven of the 12 players batting over .400.