In a few weeks, if Sean Coldiron is lucky, he’ll have to drive 13 kids in a donated 15-passenger van to Livermore, California, for the Little League World Series.
Coldiron is the manager of the all-star squad Team Arizona, a group of 12- and 13-year-olds in Little League’s Intermediate (50/70) division. The team is made up of players from Tanque Verde and Sabino Canyon little leagues.
Team Arizona plays Team Idaho tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the 11-team Western Regional at Fleischer Park in Nogales. Over the next five days, it will play three other teams (Southern California, Alaska, Oregon) in Pool 2. The top two teams from each pool move on to the semifinals. The winner moves onto California to represent the West.
The Star caught up with Coldiron to give you three things to know about Team Arizona.
Size ain’t everything
Teams can be misjudged based on the size of its players. With a lineup of six players hitting over .500 and only two power hitters, Team Arizona doesn’t mind. 13-year-old first baseman Josh Gowing is the tallest player on the squad, at 5 feet 11 inches.
Coldiron pointed to John Costich as the epitome of his club. Coldiron says Costich is “5-2 and 60 pounds soaking wet,” but his quick hands make him the No. 2 hitter. The second baseman/outfielder is batting .600.
The team’s pitchers struggled against Sierra Vista in the first game of the state tournament. They walked a few batters, gave up some big hits and surrendered a lot of runs. Down four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning, with the bottom part of the lineup at the plate, Team Arizona rallied. Team leader and catcher Tanner Foshay, who is hitting .680, ended the game with a walk-off, two-run homer to give his squad a 17-16 win.
Team Arizona is no ordinary all-star team: The roster has been together all season, and there are no hand-picked ringers.
“Its huge. These kids all trust each other. Almost all of them go to school together,” Coldiron said. “They don’t want to fail each other. Even when we were down big, the kids never set to panic. They never quit.”
Control over heat
Team Arizona’s pitching staff won’t overpower hitters — only one kid pitches into the 70s. Coldiron and his coaches stress the importance of control, changing speeds and keeping hitters off-balance.
“If our pitchers are hitting their spots, a team isn’t scoring many runs on us,” Coldiron said.
Michael Snyder will start on the mound against Idaho tonight. He’s a righty who pounds the zone. He leads the staff in strikeouts, averaging eight per game.