Big-time small ball

Recent bat rule plays into SLC’s wheelhouse

{{tncms-inline alignment=”left” content=”<p class="p1">Norcross Stadium</p> <p class="p1">Waco, Texas</p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1"><strong>Teams</strong> — Arkansas (White Hall), Colorado (Colorado Springs), Louisiana (South Lake Charles), Mississippi (Meadville), New Mexico (Carlsbad), Oklahoma (Tulsa), Texas East (Houston), Texas West (Brownsville).</span></p> <hr /> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong>Schedule</strong></span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong>Thursday, Aug. 2</strong></span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">Game 1 — South Lake Charles vs. Texas West, 11 a.m.</span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">Game 2 — Oklahoma vs. New Mexico, 2 p.m.</span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">Game 3 — Colorado vs. Mississippi, 6 p.m.</span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">Game 4 — Texas East vs. Arkansas, 9 p.m.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong>Friday, Aug. 3</strong></span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">Game 5 — Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 6 p.m.</span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">Game 6 — Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser, 9 p.m.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong>Saturday, Aug. 4</strong></span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">Game 7 — Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 6 p.m.</span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">Game 8 — Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 9 p.m.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong>Sunday, Aug. 5</strong></span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">Game 9 — Game 5 winner vs. Game 8 loser, 6 p.m.</span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">Game 10 — Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 loser, 9 p.m.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong>Monday, Aug. 6</strong></span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">Game 11 — Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner, 5 p.m.</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong>Semifinal</strong></span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">Game 12 — Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong>Tuesday, Aug. 7</strong></span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong>Semifinal</strong></span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">Game 13 — Game 11 winner vs. Game 12 loser, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)</span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong>Wednesday, Aug. 8</strong></span></p> <p class="p1"><span class="s1"><strong>Championship</strong></span></p> <p class="p2"><span class="s1">Game 14 — Game 12 winner vs. Game 13 winner, 8 p.m. (ESPN)</span></p>” id=”fd4f57a5-6409-4cf0-adf4-5ac691cf76c2″ style-type=”fact” title=”Little League World Series – Southwest Regional” type=”relcontent”}}

The South Lake Charles Little League All-Stars have their sights set on ending the team’s 10-year Little League Baseball World Series drought.

But first they have to make it through the Southwest Regional in Waco, Texas, this week.

SLC playing in the regional for the 11th time since 2001 and first since 2016, starts play against Texas West (Brownsville) at 10 a.m. Thursday. The regional champion advances to the World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, starting on Aug. 16.

Third-year head coach Jared Fuselier said this team has the attitude and confidence to punch a ticket to Williamsport for the fourth time since 2001.

“These kids have the attitude to make it anywhere they want to go,” Fuselier said. “They are never down or out of a game. 

“It is just baseball to them, which is great attitude to have. They really just chill out and focus on the game when game time comes.”

While they are trying to follow in the footsteps of the 2008 team that finished fourth at the World Series — led by several future Division I college players, including Bryce and Beau Jordan (both at LSU), Gunner Leger and Kennon Fontenot (both at Louisiana-Lafayette), and Trey Quinn (now a rookie receiver with the Washington Redskins) — this team is decidedly different, Fuselier said.

Part of that is the change in approved bats. Little League Baseball switch to USA Baseball approved BBCOR bats, cutting down on home runs, a staple of the 2008 team.

Fuselier says the change plays into SLC’s strengths — a technical offense not focused on the long ball and a solid, deep pitching staff.

At the state tournament, SLC outscored its opponents 24-5 without hitting a home run.

“It is totally different from when they (2008 team) played,” Fuselier said. “‘This is the first year that these kids have to use a new bats. 

“The ball doesn’t travel as much. Now it is a different game. You have to throw in small ball and a lot of different stuff. We try to put the ball on the bat and move guys around because these guys are so fast. We have some guys that can really pop it, but they are also fast and we can utilize that.”

SLC showed its composure at the state tournament when they fell behind Lafayette 3-0 but rallied for a 14-4 win with a combined 13 RBIs from Carson Devillier, Landon Victorian and Nik Toups. 

“Lafayette went up on us quick,” Fuselier said. ‘There was no panic ,and that is what I like about these kids.

“Before you know it we are up 14-4 and they did that by putting pressure on the defense.”

The trio make up the core of SLC’s offense that also includes Grant Matheiu, Diego Corrales and Kasen Bellard.

Victorian also anchors the pitching staff. He earned two wins at the state tournament, including a 4-0 one-hit shutout of Eastbank in the championship game. There are also lefties Corrales, Toups and Devillier plus Bellard, Grant Trahan and Griff Hebert.

Owen Galt is the top defense player, Fuselier said.

Rounding out the roster are Vandross Callahan, Dane Dixon, Myles Ledoux and Ricky Parra.

Fuselier said he hoping the team doesn’t get overwhelmed by pageantry of the tournament. The semifinals and championship game will be televised by ESPN2 and ESPN. All games will be available online through ESPN+.

“They have to stay composed,” Fuselier said. “These kids are 12 and it can get overwhelming because there is so much going on.”

Norcross Stadium

Waco, Texas

Teams — Arkansas (White Hall), Colorado (Colorado Springs), Louisiana (South Lake Charles), Mississippi (Meadville), New Mexico (Carlsbad), Oklahoma (Tulsa), Texas East (Houston), Texas West (Brownsville).


Schedule

Thursday, Aug. 2

Game 1 — South Lake Charles vs. Texas West, 11 a.m.

Game 2 — Oklahoma vs. New Mexico, 2 p.m.

Game 3 — Colorado vs. Mississippi, 6 p.m.

Game 4 — Texas East vs. Arkansas, 9 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 3

Game 5 — Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 6 p.m.

Game 6 — Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser, 9 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 4

Game 7 — Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 6 p.m.

Game 8 — Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 9 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 5

Game 9 — Game 5 winner vs. Game 8 loser, 6 p.m.

Game 10 — Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 loser, 9 p.m.

Monday, Aug. 6

Game 11 — Game 9 winner vs. Game 10 winner, 5 p.m.

Semifinal

Game 12 — Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)

Tuesday, Aug. 7

Semifinal

Game 13 — Game 11 winner vs. Game 12 loser, 8 p.m. (ESPN2)

Wednesday, Aug. 8

Championship

Game 14 — Game 12 winner vs. Game 13 winner, 8 p.m. (ESPN)

””

Myles Ledoux makes contact during batting practice Thursday, July 26, 2018 at University Park. The South Lake Charles All-Stars will play in the Little League Southwest Regional in Waco, Texas, beginning this Thursday. The team leaves Wednesday. The winner of the regional advances to the World Series in South Williamsport, Pa. (Rick Hickman/Lake Charles American Press)

RickHickmanPhotographer
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