After Mark Hayes and his West End Babe Ruth 13-year-old All-Star team won the Pennsylvania state title, Hayes got the sense that something special might be brewing.
After all, Hayes knows what it takes to have a successful post-season run at the youth level. Last summer he coached Hepburn Lycoming’s Little League team for the state tournament.
This year, Hayes is managing a Babe Ruth All-Star team in the 13-year-old division. The league may have been different, and the field is a bit bigger, but talent is still talent, and Hayes noticed that the West End had a special team after that state tournament.
“After winning the states, I felt really good. I didn’t know what we would do. After watching the first two matches in the regional, I thought if our pitching keeps up, we have a really good chance.” Hayes said.
And they had a really good chance. The West End won the Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament and this year secured a spot at the Babe Ruth World Series in the 13-year-old division in Glen Allen, Virginia, in 2022. The tournament starts on Friday and runs through Saturday, 20 August. West and New England region champions play the first game on Friday at 10 a.m., state champion Virginia at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Pacific Northwest region champions at 1 p.m. Sunday. and Southeast Zone Champion Tuesday at 10 a.m.
The 10-team field is divided into an American and a national division. The Elimination Games will begin on Wednesday with the World Series Championship, which is scheduled for Friday, August 19.
“It’s been another crazy summer. The kids have had a lot of fun going from state tournaments to wins in the Mid-Atlantic region. Now we have three weeks to get ready for the World Series tournament in Virginia.” “ Hayes said.
The West End 13-year-old All-Stars have a balanced team, with a solid pitcher and a lineup that can hit well throughout. For Hayes, team strength comes from everyone’s ability to contribute.
“We have 14 kids and kids on the bench will come and get a big hit when we need them and base running when we need to run.” Hayes said. “But right now, our pitching staff is throwing the ball really well and keeping us in a few games … and they have a good defense behind them as well.”
That solid lineup includes Nathaniel Crowe, Jackson March, Lincoln Miller, Jahvon Larosa, Zachary Neal, Kason Ulmer, James Hill, Zion Hughes, Noah Kirby, Deshan White, Mason Hayes, Caiden Lusk, Trey Damschroder and Brear Pershing.
Having led Hepburn Lycoming’s team in the States last year and the West End to the World Series this year, Hayes knows how important pitching is, and West End’s pitching has been solid in not only state tournaments, but regional tournaments as well.
He said, ‘Anyone we have put on the mound right now is striking. Going from Little League grounds to big ones, we’re not just blowing up doors and kicking kids left and right.” Hayes said. We are keeping the ball on the ground and giving good chances to our defence. We are 5-6 people deep and we are confident to throw any of them in there. ,
Not to mention the solid hitting that has come a long way.
“When you have 14 guys you’re comfortable at any time (it’s great). You need a base hit, someone to dodge, we have a great top of the lineup. They’re fast and They come to the base.” Hayes said. “In the middle to bottom lineup we are not the fastest team in the world, but they will put the ball in the game. We are scoring runs when needed.”
As for the hopes of moving to Virginia? As for Hayes and the West End, he believes he has the ability to win and compete.
“After these three weeks and practicing every night, I said to the kids ‘We all have to go out there and have fun, why not go there to win it?’ It’s in our mindset.” Hayes said. “We have no clue what we’re going to get ourselves into. The kids are playing against Hawaii and the kids are playing against Oregon and Mississippi, Virginia. We don’t know what we’re getting ourselves into But we’re going to compete there and really try to win the West End’s first World Series championship.
West End co Babe Ruth has a long line of success in all age groups, from state tournaments to regional and world series. Just walk into the log field and you’ll see lots of plaques featuring Babe Ruth highlighting the success of the league. And Hayes is glad he’s been able to continue that success.
“When we started, I didn’t expect it. I knew we would have a good team, but didn’t know where it would take us.” Hayes said. “We’re really excited and there’s nothing better than ending your season at the World Series.”
There are still a few games left for the West End to play, and if the team is able to play according to Hayes and his coaching staff, there may be another banner to celebrate.