Sluggers going to World Series
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. ” In his baseball team’s final practice before heading off to the Triple Crown World Series in Steamboat Springs, Bryan Derby coached with an iron hand in a velvet glove.
“I’m timing ya! If you’re not back in 15 seconds, you’re running again!” he shouted to a group of four dawdling baseball players.
Derby had his kids run the right-field line every time they made an error.
Moments later, the Glenwood/Carbondale Sluggers coach ” in the midst of pitching batting practice ” playfully fired a ball into the dugout fence, startling a pair of daydreaming players behind it.
Monday was mostly about fun for the Division 2 World Series-bound 13-and-under team.
“I mean, today, we’re just goofing around really,” Derby said. “If they’re not ready by now, they’re not going to be.”
The GC Sluggers will have their work cut out for them at Steamboat, which every year at this time serves as a baseball hotbed courtesy of Triple Crown.
First on the docket for the Sluggers is an intra-state showdown with the Tri-County Thunder on Wednesday in pool play, which features 56 teams. Later in the afternoon, the Sluggers face the Torrance Kahunas from Southern California and on Thursday they play the Oklahoma Rockies.
The tourney resumes with bracket play Friday through Sunday, and the Sluggers are guaranteed at least two more games.
Derby, who’s coached the same kids off and on for roughly four years, likes their chances of making a little noise in Steamboat.
“This team is probably the best team I’ve seen,” he said. “They’re the strongest group I’ve coached. They’re pretty much the same kids, but now they’re all working as one unit, coming together finally. It’s that maturity level thing. I’m thinking we have a good shot to go a long ways.”
The Sluggers will field a slightly different team than they have the rest of the summer with a few members also playing for Three Rivers Little League in the Little League Junior regional tournament, which begins Friday in Grand Junction.
Thomas Cerise, Mario Gonzalez and Trenton Reeds also play on the Three Rivers team, and will only be able play the front end of the Triple Crown Series. The Sluggers recruited four players from Eagle’s Triple Crown team.
Regardless of who takes the field, the Sluggers are ready.
Said 13-year-old Slugger Randy Burbidge: “We’re pretty confident. We’ve been pretty good. You’re always nervous going into a big tournament.”
Most of all, Derby wants his kids to enjoy themselves.
“You know, the pressure was on them to qualify,” he explained. “Now they want to go up there and win.”
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