Five opponents will gather at Brooksville’s Ernie Wever Youth Park beginning Saturday morning, attempting to halt Bushnell’s three-peat attempt in the Dixie Baseball AAA Majors (ages 11-12) District 6 Tournament.
The expected week-long event features a double-elimination format and includes: Bushnell, Ridge Manor, San Antonio, South Lake, Wesley Chapel and host Brooksville.
Spring Hill, which has hoisted four of the past seven championship trophies in this district, has opted to be represented twice in the Ozone State Tourney July 12 at the Anderson Snow Sports Complex.
Similar to last summer, the District 6 champion and second- and third-place teams will advance to the AAA Majors State Championship starting July 19 at Freeport.
Since the millennium, neither Brooksville nor Ridge Manor has ever raised a District 6 championship banner.
Brooksville, under skipper Pat Garland, finished 4-2 in this event last summer at Bushnell’s Kenny Dixon Complex.
Garland’s team went as deep as Cliff Manuel’s Brooksville American team in 2001 and Bruce Price’s 2010 squad.
The current roster features: shortstop/pitcher/catcher Javier Bonilla, first baseman/outfielder Landon Carter, first baseman/pitcher/outfielder Bryson Derryberry, outfielder Issac Edwards, third baseman/outfielder/first baseman Jordan Laing, center fielder Trenton Maner, pitcher/catcher/third baseman/first baseman Austin Miller, third baseman/catcher Jake Miller, third baseman/left fielder/catcher Hunter Stapleton, second baseman/catcher Nicholas Talpa, first baseman/second baseman/pitcher/catcher Stevie Taylor and shortstop/pitcher/second baseman Dylan Weigl.
Steve Taylor will serve as head coach assisted by Tony Carter and Rick Weigl.
Coach Taylor has nine returning All-Stars at his disposal from last season including: Austin Miller and Bonilla (AAA Majors), and his son Stevie Taylor, Carter, Laing, Justin Miller, Maner, Talpa and Weigl. Both Weigl and Stevie Taylor are rare six-time All-Stars.
Of Coach Taylor’s initial impressions, he hasn’t seen the level of talent in this team in years. Not only does he believe this Brooksville nine can win a district title, but will be able to compete for a state title. He insists this team is coming into its own.
Taylor’s optimism is based on his team’s camaraderie and focus. He noted that this group are all friends off the field and mesh well together. He pointed out that there are never any arguments between teammates.
On the bump, Coach Taylor describes his mound staff in glowing terms.
“If I had to compare, I’d say these guys are like the mid-90s (Atlanta) Braves. I wouldn’t say we have a number one, but that we have five solid pitchers who can all produce,” the coach said.
Without naming names, “We want our guys to be as cold as ice on the mound,” he said. “I just want them to strictly focus on the batters.”
Defensively, Coach Taylor expects to utilize Stevie Taylor and Austin Miller as receivers. At second base, Talpa and Stevie Taylor will also split time, while Weigl will complement both while manning shortstop.
At the infield corner positions, Derryberry is penciled in at first base while Jake Miller and Stapleton will rotate at third. Maner will captain the outfield from center field.
“Looking inside-out, I’ve never walked out of a draft with who I wanted to play certain positions as much as I have with this team,” he recalled. “With this group, I’m not worried about poor throws.”
Offensively, look for Brooksville to open with Weigl and lefty-hitting Carter at 1-2 in the lineup, followed by Bonilla, Taylor and Austin Miller.
According to Coach Taylor, this group saw outstanding pitching during the regular season that will only help prepare it for districts.
Brooksville opens District 6 action at 10 a.m. Saturday against Wesley Chapel.
“The first game sets the pace,” insisted Coach Taylor. “I don’t see these kids losing out of the gate.”
As far as tourney favorites, “Bushnell has to be the favorite coming in; they’ve won it the last two years,” pointed out Coach Taylor. “We know Bushnell will be tough, but they’ve never seen this team. I’m confident our guys will be there at the end.”
On the keys to success, “It boils down to quality of pitching, some timely hitting and all-out teamwork,” explained Coach Taylor.
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Like Brooksville, Hernando County’s smallest program, Ridge Manor, is attempting to snap an arduous drought.
Since 2001, the East Hernando County crew is 0-for-22 in District 6 tourney games.
Head Coach Danny Smith, who went 0-2 in 2012 and 2013, returns to the controls.
The roster features: pitcher/shortstop Bryan Crisp, center fielder/second baseman Ireland Duket, second baseman Colton Finley, right fielder Trystan Gant, second baseman/center fielder Justin Johnson, first baseman/pitcher/catcher J.T. Knight, left fielder Austin Moore, catcher/first baseman Trent Saltsman, third baseman/catcher/pitcher Austin Smith, second baseman/left fielder Madisyn Tyler, catcher/third baseman Mason Tyler and shortstop/pitcher Manny Vazquez.
Ridge Manor retains six All-Stars: Crisp, Gant and Madisyn Tyler (AAA Majors), and Johnson, Saltsman and Smith (AAA Minors).
Coach Smith will be aided by assistant coaches John Bowden and Eddie Johnson.
Ridge Manor opens at 10 a.m. Saturday against loaded Bushnell.
At a Glance
What – Dixie Baseball AAA Majors (ages 11-12) District 6 Tournament.
Who – Six teams in a double-elimination format featuring: Bushnell, Ridge Manor, San Antonio, South Lake, Wesley Chapel and host Brooksville.
Where – Ernie Wever Youth Park.
When – Saturday through June 27 (weather permitting).
At Stake – District champion and district runner-up advance to the State Championship starting July 19 at Freeport.
2014 Brooksville AAA Majors (ages 11-12) All-Stars
NO. PLAYER POSITION(S)
2 Dylan Weigl* SS/P/2B
3 Jake Miller* 3B/C
6 Nicholas Talpa* 2B/C
10 Bryson Derryberry 1B/P/OF
21 Jordan Laing* 3B/OF/1B
22 Landon Carter* 1B/OF
24 Javier Bonilla* SS/P/C
25 Austin Miller* P/C/3B/1B
32 Trenton Maner* CF
33 Hunter Stapleton 3B/LF/C
34 Stevie Taylor* 1B/2B/P/C
42 Issac Edwards OF
* Denotes returning AAA Majors or AAA Minors All-Star.
Head Coach – Steve Taylor
Asst. Coach – Tony Carter
Asst. Coach – Rick Weigl
By the numbers: Brooksville AAA Majors District 6 Results (2001-13)
- Compiled by TONY CASTRO
YR W L .PCT HEAD COACH
2001A 6 2 .750 Cliff Manuel
2001N 1 2 .333 Bill Korn
2002A 1 2 .333 Don McElroy
2002N 0 2 .000 Matt Stone
2003 1 2 .333 Mike Peters Sr.
2004 0 2 .000 Jeff Rollins
2005A 2 3 .400 Bubba Patterson
2005N 1 2 .333 Rob Bryson
2006 4 3 .571 Brent Young
2007 2 2 .500 Harry Timmons
2008 1 2 .333 Dudley Cullum
2009 0 2 .000 Donnie Whitehead Sr.
2010 4 2 .667 Bruce Price
2011 2 2 .500 Mike Peters
2012 0 0 .000 DNP/Hosted states
2013 4 2 .667 Pat Garland
TOTALS 29 32 .455 —15—
By the numbers: Ridge Manor AAA Majors District 6 Results (2001-13)
- Compiled by TONY CASTRO
YR W L .PCT HEAD COACH
2001 0 2 .000 John Quinn
2002 0 0 .000 NO TEAM
2003 0 2 .000 Eddie Maldonado
2004 0 2 .000 Troy Thompson
2005 0 2 .000 Jimmie Miller
2006 0 2 .000 Troy Thompson
2007 0 2 .000 Scott Ulery
2008 0 0 .000 DNP/Hosted states
2009 0 2 .000 Steve Carter
2010 0 2 .000 John McLeod
2011 0 2 .000 John McLeod
2012 0 2 .000 Danny Smith
2013 0 2 .000 Danny Smith
TOTALS 0 22 .000 —8—
2014 Ridge Manor AAA Majors (ages 11-12) All-Stars
NO. PLAYER POSITION(S)
0 Ireland Duket CF/2B
4 Justin Johnson* 2B/CF
7 Madisyn Tyler* 2B/LF
11 Trystan Gant* RF
12 Trent Saltsman* C/1B
14 Mason Tyler C/3B
19 Austin Moore LF
42 Bryan Crisp* P/SS
44 Manny Vazquez SS/P
45 Austin Smith* 3B/C/P
77 J.T. Knight 1B/P/C
98 Colton Finley 2B
* Denotes returning AAA Majors or Minors All-Star
Head Coach – Danny Smith
Asst. Coach – John Bowden
Asst. Coach – Eddie Johnson