GOSHEN — The Goshen 10U Little League All Stars started a four-game-in-five-days stretch in style Thursday, defeating the Warsaw team 17-6. For coach Kris Kroening, though, its more than just wins and losses.
This is the second year he’s coached the 10U All Stars. He volunteered last year after his son, Lucas, asked him to coach. When this season rolled around again, Kroening knew he’d want to coach his son again.
“It’s just fun watching them. I really enjoy watching them. I enjoy coaching my boy,” Kroening said. “We have fun. We enjoy coming out here to the ballpark for a few hours.”
It can be tough coaching a group of 8, 9 and 10-year-olds, but Kroening is up to the challenge.
“You expect them to do their best, but you know that they’re going to make mistakes. Just have to keep them not (getting) down on themselves if they make a mistake,” Kroening said. “I’m a pretty patient person. I usually don’t get fired up about too much. Patience is key with younger kids.”
His patience wasn’t tested much Thursday as his team scored 16 runs. They had two big innings: the third and the sixth. They pushed across five runs in the third and seven in the sixth to defeat Warsaw.
Parker Smith had four RBI’s to lead the Goshen offense.
“They really all get along very well. We only had four teams (in the regular season), so they all played together,” Kroening said. “They’re very familiar with each other and know each other’s strengths. They’re good about encouraging each other.”
Jordy Grubb-Miller started the game at pitcher for Goshen, but was replaced by Kroening’s son, Lucas. Balancing the pitching load will be crucial for Goshen if they plan on advancing out of the pool play portion of the area Little League tournament.
There are two pools of five teams, meaning each team plays four games. The top two teams in each pool advance to the semifinals. The winner of the tournament then advances to the district tournament, where a chance to advance to the state tournament is on the line.
In 10U baseball, if a pitcher throws less than 50 pitches in a day, he only has to take two days off. With three-consecutive games on Saturday, Sunday and Monday upcoming, Kroening will have an interesting time trying to balance out his pitching staff.
“It’s kind of a challenge because when they’re in there and they’re throwing strikes, you want to keep them in there. But, you have to keep in mind that you want to pitch them in the next game,” Kroening said. “We’ve got a lot of kids I feel comfortable with throwing out there on the mound.”
Austin Hough can be reached at email@example.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 325. Follow Austin on Twitter @AustinHoughTGN