The Graham all-star baseball teams will finish the little league season battling for a spot in the Texas State Little League Tournament.
“A lot of these kids play baseball not quite year round, but at least half the year,” Jay Faulk, coach of the 11-year old team, said. “So this is kind of the culmination of a lot of hard work and effort.”
Graham has teams in the 9/10-year-old, 11-year-old and 12-year-old divisions representing it in the sectional tournament Wednesday evening, July 9.
Each team is composed of players who competed in Graham little league in April and May. Qualifying for sectionals requires winning a district tournament, and all three all-star teams made it to the sectional tournament by default since Wichita Falls, the other city in District 6, didn't field a team this year.
Graham will face teams from Abilene, Fort Worth and Waco in the tournament. Each of those teams won their district tournament to reach sectionals.
Jay Markham, who helps coach the 12-year-old team, said playing against teams with bigger talent pools, such as Fort Worth, puts Graham at a disadvantage. However, Graham has some talented young players, Markham said, including three 11-year-olds who were pulled up to the older team.
“We feel comfortable playing (the bigger towns), and we feel like we got the best kids to do that with,” he said.
The players have had to make multiple on-field adjustments, including tournament rules banning base stealing and learning new positions.
The Graham players are so used to playing infield positions that they view being placed in the outfield almost as a punishment, Markham said. However, they're starting to understand that outfielders can be stars because they need to be quick and athletic to chase down fly balls, he said.
Rotating positions will also better prepare his players for high school ball, Markham said.
Read the full story in Wednesday's Graham Leader.