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By SHARON GRAVES
The under-10 Panther Select baseball team finished its season Tuesday, July 29, with a bang, putting the Carroll County minor league all-star team through its paces as the team gears up for tournament season.
Both teams consist of players under 10 years old; but the Panther Select team, with 9- and 10-year-olds, has been playing together since March. The extra experience was obvious at the July 22 scrimmage at Robert Westrick Memorial Park.
Hand-picked by coaches Jimmy Ray, Bill Hogan, Chris Hembree and Mike Willhoite, the 11 players seem to have mastered hitting and fielding, and are fundamentally sound.
In the first inning, the Panthers batted around and around, racking up one hit after another. When they weren’t hitting, they were stealing. The All-Stars of Carroll County’s Parks and Recreation league had a tough time keeping them off the base paths.
The Panthers played 46 games during regular season and ended with a 22-24 record.
“This game was an opportunity to help another team get ready to play in some tournaments, and it was our chance to show the community how much we have improved,” Ray said.
The All-Stars’ under-11 players are coached by Marty McIntyre, Rick Southworth, Shawn Keeton and Nick Vannarsdall. They are the top players from the two teams in the county’s minor league division.
The All-Stars began tournament play in Georgetown, Ky., with a minimum of four games and the possibility of more if they do well. The team is preparing to travel to a Taylorsville, Ky., tourney with the same format.
“This is a young team,” Southworth said. “We had a rough first inning, but things improved after that. Several of our top players were on vacation and missed this practice game. We did see that we need to work on our hitting beginning with our next practice. They are great kids to work with, and they have great parents.”
The All-Stars are sponsored by Luhn and Oak, Mark Smith and State Farm Insurance, Quick Lane at Earl Floyd Ford, and Fillin’ the Blank.