Little League All Star tournament succeeds on many levels

LANGLEY — The little guys and the older players are out of it, but the girls take center stage this weekend.

LANGLEY — The little guys and the older players are out of it, but the girls take center stage this weekend.

The South Whidbey Little League All Stars tournament at South Whidbey Community Park, blessed with great weather, has been a hit for players, coaches and fans.

Sometimes, you get exactly what you ask for.

In Debbie Holbert’s case — she’s the president of South Whidbey Little League — it was a wish for sunny skies following a soggy South End spring.

“The weather has been perfect, just the right atmosphere for a hot dog and lemonade at the ballpark,” she said Thursday.

Perfection is relative, however. Manager Henry Pope said that the 9/10 All Stars lost their first two games and their tournament is over.

“Both games were close, a 5-4 loss to Sedro-Woolley and an 11-9 loss to Anacortes,” he said. “In the first game, we led 3-2 in the fifth inning, but their guys put up great defense and we couldn’t quite get past them.”

Much the same happened in the Anacortes contest. Down 6-0 in the second, the All Stars revved it up for a 9-8 lead.

“The bases were loaded twice, but their guys caught our hits and we went down,” Pope said.

Pope said he took 13 kids to the games and everyone played, a key component of the basic Little League philosophy.

“It was a terrific experience for all of us,” he added.

Pope noted that pitchers Mitchell Grady, Lewis Pope, Austin Sterba, Cody Newman and Jonathan Bartell excelled on the mound.

Monday was tough indeed for the older 13/14-age All Stars, as they tanked 14-4 to a Central Whidbey team.

“Yeah, it was ugly,” said manager Tom Fallon. “But we bounced back.”

On Wednesday, the team beat a combined Burlington/Sedro- Woolley squad 16-6.

“The key was, I conserved our pitchers by using five,” Fallon explained. “That, plus great batting by Colton Sterba and Evan Piehler did the trick.”

Mo Hamsa, Trent Fallon, Campbell Albertson, Andy Zisette and Nick Bennett split time on the mound, helping to confuse batters and maintain momentum.

But Thursday evening, Central Whidbey broke a 4-4 tie in the fifth inning with 10 unanswered runs for a 14-4 victory.

“It was a tough way to end the week,” Fallon said. “The boys competed well, but since most of our kids were just 13, their inexperience caught up with them. Next year, they should take it all.”

Holbert noted that the action isn’t over.

Last night, the 10/11 All Stars played their first game, the 11/12 boys take the field at 2 p.m. today at Windjammer Park in Oak Harbor and the girls junior (13 to 14-years-old) softball team will open on Sunday, June 11, also in Oak Harbor.

“It has been a wonderful tournament, and there’s still more to come,” Holbert said. “Plenty of hot dogs and hamburgers, too.

“It’s an honor for us to be able to host these games here on South Whidbey. I want to praise Tom (Fallon) and his crew at the parks district for keeping our fields in top shape. We have had nothing but compliments on our facilities.”