Come­back sea­son 2014

New­ton STARS shine at state

The Covington News - - SPORTS - SHA­KEEM HOL­LOWAY shol­loway@cov­news.com

It all started just one year ago, when cur­rent 8U New­ton STARS head coach Scott Stan­dard be­lieved that his daugh­ter and many other young girls de­served the same op­por­tu­nity as his son, which was to play in an all-star tour­na­ment.

Since New­ton County doesn’t of­fer all-stars for girls, Stan­dard got to­gether with his coaches and par­ents and they ven­tured out on their own to give the girls an op­por­tu­nity to play as all-stars.

“We de­cided last year that we’d go full-fledged into it,” Stan­dard said. “When I sat down with the par­ents and I said, ‘Okay ,we’re prob­a­bly look­ing at an $1,800 budget and we’re prob­a­bly go­ing to play 25 games.’ It turned into more like 75 games and five or six thou­sand dol­lars to spend or raise. Ev­ery­body caught the fever and en­joyed it so much that we had no hes­i­ta­tions about try­ing it again this year.”

Through com­mu­nity fundrais­ers, lo­cal spon­sors and much of their own money, the coaches and par­ents were able to get it done. It turns out that it was money well spent. The STARS went on to win the Tri-State Soft­ball As­so­ci­a­tion World Se­ries in Oc­to­ber.

“These girls last year when they won that world se­ries, [it was] heart, grit, what­ever you want to call it. We fin­ished at like one or two o’clock in the morn­ing, 30-some­thing de­grees and I just saw that in the girls, the ma­tu­rity and ev­ery­thing else,” Stan­dard said.

Play­ing for Stan­dard is a huge com­mit­ment from both the kids and the par­ents. He added that it’s not for ev­ery­one. Stan­dard says that some­times his team prac­tices non-stop for three hours or more. The STARS played ball for about six months al­to­gether last year be­fore their sea­son ended.

“We put them through what I would equate to what I’ve done with 12-year-old boys,” Stan­dard said. “Like I said, it’s not for ev­ery­one, and a lot of the par­ents, it takes a huge com­mit­ment from them.”

“I won’t say that we got the most tal­ented 11 in the league in New­ton County. I won’t say that be­cause for some it’s just not for [them]. We had one tour­na­ment last year. We played 11 or 12 ball games in one day. That’s not for ev­ery­one,” Stan­dard said laugh­ingly.

Al­though the STARS would be­come tri-state cham­pi­ons, last year’s trip to the All-Star State Tour­na­ment left more to be de­sired.

“Last year when we went to state we were one of the first teams elim­i­nated, even though we ended up bounc­ing back and hav­ing a great sum­mer and fall sea­son,” Stan­dard said. “When we played in the state tour­na­ment last year we were elim­i­nated on Satur­day evening. For those re­turn- ees and my­self and all my coaches that re­turned it was a very sour taste we had [from last year]. Last night [Sun­day night] was ex­tremely re­ward­ing.”

The six play­ers that re­turned were able to rid them­selves of the bit­ter loss from last year. New­ton pumped out a 6-2 vic­tory in a one-in­ning shootout against the Twin Creek Twisters in the dou­ble-elim­i­na­tion tour­na­ment af­ter the Twisters had de­feated the STARS just 1110 just mo­ments ear­lier.

The STARS were play­ing with about five or six girls in­jured through­out the weekend. It came to a point where Stan­dard tried to take his daugh­ter Elle out of the game, but she wouldn’t let him.

Stan­dard, who has won three state cham­pi­onships be­fore, said that none of them felt like this one.

“This year we’ve ex­ceeded any ex­pec­ta­tions I had. Our goal was, this is their last year be­fore they go to kid-pitch, our goal when I got with the coaches ear­lier in the year was to re­ally make them have a dream they’d al­ways re­mem­ber,” Stan­dard said.

“I’d taken boys teams down to the beach three or four years ago. Boys that I still see to­day that are now 12, 13, 14 years old al­ways re­mem­ber do­ing that, and for some that’s the only time they’ve ever done it and ever will. I made a pledge amongst our coaches we said, 'Let’s make ev­ery ef­fort to get them there.'”

Go­ing into the cham­pi­onship game, New­ton was able to make it out of bracket play un­de­feated, and they were fac­ing a team that had won five or six tour­na­ments al­ready. The STARS, how­ever, aren’t just some pushover team. Since April, the STARS have com­peted in eight tour­na­ments, where they have fin­ished in ei­ther first, sec­ond or third each time.

“I’m usu­ally a tra­di­tion­al­ist, but I ac­tu­ally changed the batting or­der for the shootout game and I wanted to be the vis­it­ing team, which I know con­tra­dicts ev­ery­thing in the book. We wanted it. We were hit­ting well, I said I wanted to jump out on top and for­tu­nately for us it ended up well,” Stan­dard said.

New­ton will move on and play in the World Se­ries in Alabama be­gin­ning the mid­dle of July.

Sub­mit­ted photo /The Cov­ing­ton News

Sub­mit­ted photo /The Cov­ing­ton News

Front row (left to right): Sa­niah Led­erer, Elle Stan­dard, Kyla Stroud, Sa­van­nah Ma­son, Camiyah Smith, T'erica Smith. Sec­ond row (left to right): Kathryn Sweat­man, Ryan Hen­der­son, Alexis Her­nan­dez, Chloe McSwain, Macy Lan­gle. Back row (left to right): coaches - Ho­race Stroud, Scott Stan­dard, Lawrence Ma­son, Chad Lan­g­ley.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.