MARIETTA, Ga. – Chicks dig the long ball. That’s how the saying goes. When a home run is hit, everyone stops and stars in amazement as the player who hit it trots around the bases nonchalantly as if to signify he had done that a million times before. The feeling the player has while making his way around the bases is one that can be characterized as untouchable. In that moment, that player feels like nobody else on the field is better than him.
On Day 1 of the 12u BCS Finals at the East Cobb Complex it was easy to take notice of the Signature Park Storm. The Storm started their BCS tournament against a very good RBI Rangers team. After allowing two runs in the top of the first inning, the Storm scored three in the first, three in the third, and one in the fifth, and held on for a 7-5 win. The long ball decided the outcome of the game. The Storm hit three solo home runs in the game including two by shortstop Trey Mullins.
“We had our first game today against the RBI Rangers, a really good team,” said head coach Patrick Mullins. “We pitched really well, and we hit well. We played good defense, and I was just happy to get a win from that team. That was one of the teams we were worried about. So, it was a good start.”
In their second game of the day, it was much of the same story, although the outcome of the game came a little bit easier for the Storm than that of game one. The Storm saw four of their nine hits leave the yard, and they cruised to an 11-0 victory. The power surge is partly due to the fields, but it is mostly due to the caliber of hitter in the Storm dugout.
“We’ve always done well hitting the long ball,” raved Mullins. “These shorter fields usually play into our advantage. Here recently, the last two or three tournaments, we’ve started to hit the ball really well, and it’s carried over to this tournament.”
The Storm looked back on day one of the tournament with all smiles going 2-0 and looking primed to win their pool. The way these tournaments, like all of the BCS tournaments are set up is all of the teams are reseeded after pool play into a second pool play round. If the Storm were to win their pool, they would be reseeded into a second pool with three teams from three different pools. One team would have placed second in their respective pool, one would have place third in their respective pool, and the last would have placed fourth in their respective pool. Then, they would all play each other and the winner would move into the bracket round.
The difference this tournament possesses from many other tournaments usually makes coaches change their strategy when it comes to pitching. Some coaches do not worry much about round one of pool play, and they throw their best guys in round two of pool play. Other coaches try to throw their best pitcher in game one of round one and round two of pool play in hopes to get their team a win to start both pool plays. For the Signature Park Storm, strategy and planning out matchups at this age is not something they are concerned with.
“We really don’t have any kind of strategy,” joked Mullins. “We just kind of do what we have been doing all year.”
Signature Park, where the Storm plays out of, is yet another baseball park that has popped up in the Atlanta area that looked to attract the top baseball talent. Located in the Buford area, the park has already started trying to appeal to ballplayers. Although it has only been open for a short period of time, Signature Park has put in some attractions that are very beneficial for young players, and they are still growing.
“Signature Park is a fairly new facility,” explained Mullins. “It’s kind of a work in progress. They have really nice fields. They just put up a brand new indoor batting cage to draw more people. It’s been good. It’s a good park to play out of.”
It seemed easy to tell that this Storm team has benefitted greatly from that indoor batting cage. After hitting seven home runs in two games, the team is very confident heading into their next game. The key now is simply to do what they did today a few more times in the next couple of days. That’s obviously easier said than done. But, Mullins summed it up nicely. All he wants from his team moving forward in the tournament is to “just keep playing loose and playing hard. That’s it.”
If the Storm follow these words from their coach, and sprinkle in a few more of those towering home runs over the next couple of days, they are sure to be there on Tuesday morning playing for the title.