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Mound Time 13U squad going for it all

The mission is simple.

When Mound Time’s 13U All-Star team takes off for the Babe Ruth Little League World Series in Williston, N.D., on August 16, the players have only one goal.

Come home with the trophy.

“Our expectation is simply to win,” said coach Kevin Lovings. “What I’ve told the kids all year long is we don’t focus on opponents. We focus on playing baseball right, and the game will take care of itself. If you get caught up in who you’re playing, you’re going to get away from playing the game correctly and doing all the things needed to be successful.”by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Mound Times 13U catcher Issac Lovings said it took everybody on the roster to come through and take the squad to the Babe Ruth World Series.

The 13U team went down to Baker City three weeks ago and won the state tournament. Then the squad seized the regional tournament in Centralia, Wash,. on Aug. 4 going 6-0 over the two-day event. For its effort, Mound Time will represent the Northwest Region in Williston. The tournament runs from Aug. 17-24. The Babe Ruth League is a step up from Little League and created for those players looking to speed up their cognition of the game while intensifying their abilities through thorough instruction.

“We’re really excited,” said shortstop Andrew Sirak. “We just want to get out there. We’re ready to get out on the field and play.”

There will be 10 teams representing different regions throughout the country, but Mound Time has an advantage because the team doesn’t play the first day of competition. The 13U’s coaching staff of Jarred Frierson, Kevin Lovings and Ken Siark get to scout out their first two opponents in advance while the team gets acclimated to its surroundings. They’ll gather information on their adversary’s top players and strategies.

“Every game matters, but we just have to take it as another tournament,” said outfielder Connor Fajardo. “We communicate as a team. Our defense is usually pretty good, nothing really gets past us. We’re more of a team than anything.”

Lovings said the neat thing about this group of players is each has added to the team’s success. From pitching to clutch hitting to key defensive plays, 13U has received contributions from each of the 15 competitors at one time or another to put themselves in position to do damage on the national stage.

Players such as Trey Werner, Derek Eubanks, Benny Braukmann, Ian Cooney — all Beaverton residents — have all shined when the pressure was on. by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Mound Time 13U outfielder Connor Fajardo said the squad is amped to take on all comers at the Babe Ruth World Series next week.

“Everyone’s contributed,” said catcher Issac Lovings. “From our catchers to our outfield, infield and pitchers. All of us have played a role. We had a lot of tough battles against teams we knew were going to be tough. We had to get past that barrier. Every time we beat a team, we knew there was a new challenge ahead of us. We had to keep climbing that wall, to get to this last challenge. This is the one we have to defeat.”

For instance, if one guy gets hot, the rest of the squad tends to keep on with the momentum. Or, if the top of the 13U’s lineup is struggling, the bottom three guys have picked up the slack.

“It’s not a one-man show, it’s all about the team,” said Andrew Sirak. “We all worked our hardest to get here, and we’re ready to finish off the year. It’s a business trip as our coaches say. We’re out there to have fun, but we gotta take care of business.”

Fajardo said 13U could play as many as seven games in North Dakota, so the longer its starters can throw, the more arms it can save for later in the tourney.

“We had a couple ups and downs, but we practiced hard and worked hard to get to this point,” added Fajardo. “This is what our goal was, to reach the World Series, but now we gotta win it.”

Issac Lovings said he hasn’t heard a lot about North Dakota other than there are “a lot of oil rigs out there.” Nonetheless, the the players are looking forward to seeing how they stack up with some of the best All-Star teams in the nation.

“It’s not like a Boston or New York, but not every kid gets to go to the World Series, so it’ll be a good experience,” said Fajardo. “We just have to be solid on defense, hit the ball hard and find holes. Everybody has to work hard to win this thing.”by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Mound Time 13U shortstop Andrew Sirak said the squad is itching to get to North Dakota and compete in the Babe Ruth Little League World Series.

Kevin Lovings, who also coaches baseball at Pacific University, told his team to relish this weekend and let the results take care of themselves. The anticipation is mounting as the team continues to practice at the Mound Time facility with an eye toward Williston.

The coaches’ message to their kids this summer has been “accept what you expect.” It’s paid off because the team expects to be successful.

During the regional tournament, 13U was down in a couple of dogfights that came down to the wire but were ultimately able to shut down the opponent defensively. They found ways to win, and Issac Lovings foresees nothing less when they fly to The Plains.

“It was a lot of hard work, a lot of hard effort,” noted Issac Lovings. “It takes a lot to get here. I’m really excited, so let’s go get ‘em.”



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