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Little League starts with evaluations

"Evan Mattens, 8, heaves the ball back after making a nice catch in Little League evaluations Saturday morning.Jim Larsen / staff photosTo parents and other adults, it was cute. Little boys and girls standing alone between second and third base, trying to catch the ball as a few dozen people watched.But what was going through each kid's mind? The pressure was on to field ground, catch pop flies, and throw accurately in the direction of first base. Otherwise, they may receive a lower skill evaluation.Literally hundreds of South Whidbey kids ages 8 and up were put to the test Saturday during the annual Little League player evaluations, the first step toward selecting this year's teams.As each player took to the field, he or she was watched by prospective teammates, parents, coaches and a number of adults marking evaluation sheets. But if there was a lot of pressure, it didn't show. The kids seemed to react well. In some cases, more than a few grounders rolled through legs and pop flies fell untouched, but the kids ran off the field with good try and good hustle echoing his ears. For 10-year-old veterans such as Chris Olson and Brooks Guetlin who caught almost everything hit their way, there were cheers to remember.Saturday was just the beginning of Little League season. Soon, the kids will be told which teams they will play on, and then they'll get ready for opening day when all the teams gather at South Whidbey Community Park. After the regular spring season, the best will be picked for All Star squads. "

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