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All-Star diamond seasons hit high gear this week

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By Mike Farner

SHEPHERDSVILLE - After a warm-up week, the great Bullitt County tradition of summer Babe Ruth All-Star baseball and softball will move into overdrive. Starting on Wednesday with baseball action for the Bullitt County and Mount Washington teams and on Thursday for softball teams, there will be games all over Jefferson County along with a handful in Mount Washington. A couple of successful tournaments will be closing out later this week at Blue Lick. This is pretty much the second year in a row for this format of post-season baseball play. That means Blue Lick playing with teams in central and west Jefferson County while Bullitt County and Mount Washington play together in District 2 (and at times combined with District 20 teams from eastern Jefferson County). There is district action this week and then the winners will advance to state tournaments a week later. In softball, the teams move directly to state tournaments. The state line cuts right through Jefferson County. That means that Blue Lick competes in the Western Kentucky State Tournament while Bullitt County and Mount Washington teams are in the Eastern Kentucky State Tournament. The winners of those two events advance to regional play which will be next week. Blue Lick hosted District 13 baseball tournaments in the Under-14 and Under-10 age groups that started last week and continue into this week. Mount Washington will host the Under-11 District 2 Tournament this week. An Odd Feeling What was strange about summer ball this year was typing up the rosters that have appeared in the paper and seeing kids with Shepherdsville and Lebanon Junction addresses playing for Mount Washington All-Star teams.

 No, there is no recruiting going on. This spring, because Bullitt County has no field big enough for a 13-15 year old league, the league's older players competed in intra-league play with Mount Washington. That is not a new thing, it has happened off and on in the past depending on its league's numbers, but this year it was mandatory when the Bullitt County Board of Education had to erase the Park's field as they build a new Roby Elementary. All the intra-league games were played in Mount Washington. Normally, even with the intra-league situation, each league would field its own All-Star teams. However, this year, some of the other leagues in Jefferson County, which also play intra-league schedules, voted to play combined All-Star teams in the post-season. Obviously, Mount Washington and Bullitt County had to combine or be left behind. On the positive side, it did mean that there were enough players for All-Star teams at the 13-, 14- and 15-year old divisions. The bad news is that they will be playing even better teams from Jefferson County. This is really a good thing overall. I can recall Bullitt County winning district titles by beating up on teams with nine players...and sometimes vice-versa. Full teams competing against each other will help everyone in the long run. Rule Changes The biggest change this season for all of youth baseball was the move by Cal Ripken to allow the 11-12 year olds to steal bases. That move has created two 11-12 rule books. Some leagues used the old 60-foot bases with no stealing, while some have gone to the 65-foot bases with base stealing allowed. I would have been uneasy with the move at first, but after seeing some games involving Blue Lick last weekend at Germantown, it probably worked better than I would have imagined. The kids handled it well, but it still seems that now that when you give up a walk, almost assuredly the runner will end up at third base within a few pitches. I didn't see anyone picked off a base or thrown out trying to steal. One rule that Cal Ripkin/Babe Ruth really needs to look at is a more strict 'mercy' rule. There was a 13-year old game last weekend where the score was 19-2 after three innings. There was absolutely no reason to send the teams back out for two more innings. The umpires did as the rule book required, but a 37-2 game is not in anyone's best interest when it was stopped after five innings. I realize that big wigs sitting at a conference table in the middle of November are saying that if a team only has to play three innings that they gain a pitching advantage over the other teams in the tournament. While that might be true, it doesn't trump the fact that blow-outs are not good for teams, players, fans or officials. A ten-run rule after five innings is fine, but adding a 15-run rule after three innings would be even better.