All-stars return to sectionals

July 7, 2011

Sweetwater’s 10-11 year-old all-stars displayed this banner after their district championship win over Wylie on Tuesday. Pictured are players Isak Alvarez, Kobe Clark, Nick Figueroa, Ky Hoover, Tristan Longoria, Noah Martinez, Mason Maxwell, Kiante McCoy, Jordan McGee, Andrew Melendez, Chris Thompson & Taylor Turney & coaches Kenny Maxwell, Neal Hoover, Joe Hall, Randy Melendez, Sammy Alvarez & Lewis Martinez. The team will play in a sectional tournament at Waco next week. (Photo by Ron Howell)

Only a handful of teams are good enough to make it to the sectional round of Little League all-star play each summer.
But not only does Sweet-water have a pair of teams going to sectionals, most of the players on those teams have been there before.
Seven of Sweetwater’s 13 Senior League (ages 15-16) players were on a Junior League team that reached the 2010 sectional finals in Waco as 13- and 14-year-olds. And of the 12 players on Sweetwater’s 10-11 year-old team, all but one was on a 9-10 year-old team that also advanced to the sectional finals last year when the tournament was played in Fort Worth.
Next week, the 10-11 year-olds will be traveling to Waco for sectionals after beating Wylie, 11-4, on Tuesday in the District 5 championship game held at Sweetwater. The 15-16 year-olds will go to Garland for their sectional tournament after winning their district tournament held in Abilene last month. The teams in their age division did not play in an all-star tournament this year.
“We’ve talked about get-ting back to sectionals since Day One of the season,” said Kenny Maxwell, who is the manager of the 10-11 year-old team and also managed them a year ago. “But ulti-mately, our goal is to go to the state tournament.
“It’s a lot more difficult at this level because there is a lot more participation. But these kids are really hard working and dedicated.”
Maxwell has coached Lit-tle League for 19 years, and this will be the fifth time he has taken a team to the sectional round. He coached his oldest son, Tripp, on teams that went to sectional tournaments in 1998 and 2002. He also coached his middle son, Cole, at a sectional tourney in 2005 and this will be his second straight year to coach youngest son Mason at sectionals.
To date, Tripp is the only son to play in a state tour-nament for a team that his dad coached. That happened in 2002 when Tripp was a 14-year-old.
But Mason and Cole — the latter is playing for the 15-16 year-old team at sectionals — will both have a chance next week to duplicate their older brother’s accomplishment.
“I’ve been real fortunate,” said Kenny Maxwell. “All of those teams have had really good, quality kids.
“I think that these kids (his current 10-11 year-old team) can do whatever they put their minds to. If they don’t let all of the distractions get in their way, they can get to state.”
Sectional play for both the 10-11 and 15-16 year-olds is set to begin June 13 with a double elimination format.
The 10-11 year-olds will play their first game against the District 6 champion at 6 p.m. on July 13 at Waco Midway, while the 15-16 year-old team also opens at 6 p.m. on July 13 as they will take on the champion from District 8 at Garland.
Teams from District 7, 8 and 9 will also be in the 10-11 year-old tourney, and District 6 and 7 will also be represented in the 15-16-year-old tournament. The events are scheduled to end with title games on July 16 and 17, respectively.

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