After competing in their first district tournament just a year ago, the Hopkinsville-Christian County Youth League All-Stars have notched their first district win, plus have a 2-1 record heading into today's final pool play contest with a shot at the semifinals on the line.
HCCYL coach Michael Finch knew this would be a big year for his club after they made their first tournament a year ago, and despite a few bumps along the way last season, each player said they wanted to return and confirmed that Friday when they took down Warren County South, 3-2, for their first victory.
"They fight for each other," Finch said. "If nothing else goes on, I am more proud of them because of that."
During game two, the team fell to Daviess County 5-3 despite an early 2-0 lead after the first frame.
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Henry Bullard singled to knock in Jayden Nichols for the first run. Judah Fancher then hit a fielder's choice to knock in Jackson Flynn.
Daviess scored one in the top of the third to cut it to 2-1 heading to the bottom of the frame.
In the bottom of the third, Flynn walked to lead off the inning and stole second base. Eli Finch then singled to score Flynn.
Daviess then scored two more runs in the fifth to tie the game.
Daviess would go on to score two in the top of the seventh for the win.
Flynn and Carson Powell each had strong showings on the mound as Powell finished with nine strikeouts.
In game three, HCCYL cruised to an 11-1 win over Hopkins County, their first year in the district tournament.
Lance Green go the win on the hill as Fincher finished 3-for-3 at the plate in the game.
HCCYL plays at 7 p.m. at Country Heights Elementary against Bowling Green East for a possible spot in the district semifinals. Finch said all four local middle school programs are represented on the team.
"They just love to play," he said. "They're students of the game. You wouldn't know the difference of them getting roughed up last year because they all came back ... They're just a pretty special group ...
"They are more worried about playing with and for each other than anything else."
Finch admitted he's not like other little-league program coaches, which could be a reason why he gets so much out of his team.
"I'm not the normal coach," he said. "I love on them and I get a little stern occasionally. We're out here to play as well as we can play but we're also here to have a lot of fun."
Finch said he's had to fend off questions from other coaches because they asked about his team's rise in the last year.
"What have you guys been doing," he said was the most common question.
But whatever they've been doing has worked as Finch gets emotional when he talks about his team.
"They always say 'coach, you water up on us all the time,' " he said. "That's just how I feel about them."
Finch said no matter what happens in today's contest, he's proud of his team.
"They are some of the best young men I know and they represent our city and our county very well," he said.
00 Lance Green
2 Leland Creamer
4 Eli Finch
10 Drew Fields
11 Kai'den Alvin
13 Judah Fancher
14 Henry Bullard
22 Jackson Flynn
23 Jayden Nichols
27 Carson Powell
40 Brady Greene
44 Caleb Moss
51 Kade Larrabee