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Wednesday, Sep. 17, 2014

All-Stars hoping to continue dominance

Sunday, August 8, 2010

(Photo)
10-year-old Sikeston All-Star coach Leother Branch gives his team a pep talk during a recent practice at the Sikeston Sports Complex. After winning the Midwest Plains Regional tournament, Sikeston earned a trip to the World Series in Ocala, Fla. Chris Pobst, Staff
SIKESTON -- After a clean sweep in the Babe Ruth Midwest Plains Regional Tournament this past weekend in Boonville, the Sikeston 10-year-old All-Stars are headed to the World Series.

"The kids are very excited about," Sikeston coach Leother Branch said. "They worked extremely hard at preparing for this moment."

Coming in to regionals as the Missouri state champions, the All-Stars made quick work of the competition, advancing to the title game out of the winner's bracket where they would face North Platte, Neb., for the championship.

There, the All-Stars would get four innings of two-run ball out of pitcher Jarred Sandlin while pumping out 10 hits to win 12-2 on the 10-run mercy-rule.

Going into the bottom of the fourth leading 9-2, Sikeston would score all three of their runs in the frame on wild pitches with Will Gilmer crossing the plate for the final run to wrap up the championship.

So now Sikeston prepares to head to Ocala, Fla., where their sure to see the toughest competition they have seen all season.

Though Sikeston will likely see much closer ball games than the one they ended regionals with, Branch said he's confident in the make-up of his team.

"We try to teach the kids the concept that there is no "I" in team," he said. "I think our strength this year is everybody is listening and working hard together. Our defense is very strong.

"We have some excellent pitching as well. We have four or five kids that can really pitch the ball, and do a really good job at it. They know how to work the counts pretty good."

The way the World Series is set up a total of 10 teams will compete in two pools, the National League and the American League.

Out of the two pools the top three teams from each will emerge to form a six-team single elimination tournament bracket with the two top seeds getting a first round bye.

Kicking things off Friday at 7 p.m. Sikeston is set to play the host team Ocala in their first game of pool play.

Branch said it's a real testament to the kids and community to be able to field a team that's set to go against teams from much larger markets.

"When you're competing against teams that have 500,000 population compared to 18,000 like Sikeston they have a bigger pool to pick from," he said. "Coming from a small area like this and playing baseball the way we play baseball is a pretty big accomplishment."

"(Going to the World Series) is going to be a new experience for us to be honest with you. We just want to represent Sikeston and show them what Bootheel baseball is all about."

Branch added the team is currently taking donations to help them with their expenses on the trip. For more information, contact Branch at (573) 931-3188.