HILLVIEW – Coming into the district tournament, manager Troy Hayes and his 14-year-old All-Star team from Blue Lick was full of confidence.
And sweeping through the district tourney on its home field, the Blue Lick squad opens state tournament play tonight in St. Matthews.
“We’re confident but we’re not over confident,” said Hayes, whose first round opponent at 6 p.m. will be Hart County. The two teams played an epic game last year at the state tournament where Blue Lick got a big early lead only to see it vanish in the late innings.
One reason for the increased confidence was the addition of several players who were members of the North Bullitt freshman team.
“We’re so deep,” said Hayes. “We have 14 players who can hit and we have six or seven pitchers.”
In the opener, Blue Lick jumped on top of Fairdale early en route to a 12-2 victory.
Keaton Reitz took the hill in the opener and went the distance.
The second inning was the big one as Blue Lick put nine runs on the board.
In the winner’s bracket final, nemesis Germantown jumped on top 4-1 through the sixth inning. During this time, Hayes said Blue Lick left 11 runners on base.
However, the Blue Lick bats came alive and put up eight runs, capped off by a grand slam from Jacob Kelly. Kevin McKnight got the victory in relief.
In the rematch against Germantown, Blue Lick was in control the whole way.
Nick Hayes went the distance on the mound in the 10-2.
While the team hits the ball well, Hayes said the key has been pitching and defense.
“We made all the plays we’re supposed to make,” said the coach, whose had two prior teams reach the state tournament. “Our pitchers throw strikes and our defense has been very strong.”
In meshing new players with established ones, chemistry is often a concern. That has not been the case as 10 of the 14 play together at North Bullitt.
“We are playing very well as a team,” said Hayes. “There’s no pressure on any one player to do it all. They know there is always someone there to pick them up.”
Ten teams are entered into the state tournament and Hayes likes the chances of advancing to the Ohio Valley Regional Tournament the following week in Connersville, Ind.
Members of the Blue Lick 14-year-old All-Star team includes: Wyatt Blevins, Austin Harding, Michael Harris, Nick Hayes, Ryan Henson, Trenton Hill, Jacob Kelly, Kevin McKnight, Chase Morrison, Dylan Napper, Keaton Reitz, Austin Trammell, Daulton Walls and Logan Wyatt. Hayes is assisted by Eddie Blevins and Jeff Walls.