Players on the Kingman North 10-12 All Star team stack their gloves to represent "team" and doing it together. (Photo by Steve Petrausche/Courtesy)
Originally published Friday, June 22, 2018 at 05:59a.m.
KINGMAN – Not often does a manager complain about having an abundance of talented baseball players on his team. However, there is one downside in that situation – who are the nine starters?
“I definitely lose sleep over that – you want to get every kid as much playing time as you possibly can,” said Kingman North 10-12 All Stars manager Chad Benson. “We’re still trying to learn and develop, but it is the District 9 All Stars Championship.
“So we fall back on ‘yeah, you have to earn it,’” Benson continued. “Unfortunately, it’s going to come down to those little tiny things – knowing the plays, knowing what’s going on and knowing all the little tricks that we have. All these kids know that stuff, so it makes my life even harder.”
At the end of the day, Benson knows he and his staff can only do their best and play the kids where the demand is and get everyone as much playing time as possible.
That will be the case tonight as Kingman North opens the District 9 Tournament at 8 p.m. against Blythe at Southside Park.
Adding to the importance of the tourney is the fact it’s the last opportunity for a number of players to win a championship in their age group.
“That’s kind of what we’ve been telling these kids, ‘this is their 12 year old year – this is it,’” Benson said. “Our practices have been tough and we’ve been pushing the kids as much as we can to make sure they leave it all out on the line out on the field, which I’m sure they all will. That’s just the nature of those kids. That’s their drive – to play hard and they do.”
Kingman North’s drive to win has a lot to do with its talent – which Benson talked about at length. From the overall athleticism to arm strength, to power at the plate, this squad isn’t backing down from the challenge.
“It’s a great team and a great group of kids,” Benson said. “They’re really baseball smart. I think they’re ready to go. We’ve been practicing very hard – running two and a half hour practices just about every night.”
All that time at Southside Park will no doubt pay off, as the only other squad that has had the advantage of spending extended time on the field is Kingman South.
But Benson isn’t putting too much thought into where Kingman North will play – instead he is determined to lead his squad to a championship.
“I’m not even looking at the loser’s bracket,” Benson said. “I’m totally focused on the winner’s bracket. We’re strategizing based on that. If the chips don’t fall the way we want them to, then we’ll adjust accordingly. But we’re coming strong – we’re planning on staying it that bracket. That’s our goal.”