GOSHEN — The Goshen 12U All Star little league baseball team will have a chance to advance to the state tournament after defeating Osolo (Elkhart), 13-1, to finish up pool play Monday.
Goshen went 3-1 in pool play, advancing to the semifinals of the Little League postseason tournament. If they win the semifinal and championship games, they will advance to the state tournament in Greenfield, just east of Indianapolis.
Coach Mike Cline has coached most of these kids since they were 8 years old. Having knowledge of the team has helped him get the best out of the group.
“I know the kids just as well as I know my own, so I know their strengths and weaknesses,” Cline said. “I really think that I have them figured out by now.”
Although Cline has been coaching them for four years, the team is still comprised of kids under the age of 12 years old. Being they’re so young, Cline makes sure to have fun with the kids.
“Practices, we have a lot of fun. We’ll usually end it with a game or start one with it. Just to let them know that they’re kids,” Cline said.
That doesn’t mean practices are easy.
“They’re definitely hard. I don’t like to take it easy,” Cline said. “These are some of the best kids around, and I expect a lot out of them. And, they know how I am and they want to win.”
Goshen had a strong showing Monday, scoring 11 runs in the bottom of the second inning. All but one player had a base hit, including a three-run inside-the-park home run from Levi Sawatzky. Omar Carrillo had three hits individually to lead Goshen.
The All Stars also had a strong pitching performance from Landon Beasy, who struck out six Osolo batters.
“Pitching is a big thing, and we’ve got a couple good pitchers. We have Jensen Meikle and Omar Carrillo who are two really solid pitchers,” Cline said. “The catcher behind the plate, my son (Braxton Cline), he’s one of the best catchers around. We’ve got kids on this team that are good hitters.”
Goshen plays its semifinal game Thursday at Southside. Cline is confident his players can advance to the state tournament.
“We went to (10U) state with basically this same team two years ago. We won a couple games down there before getting knocked out. I was happy with our turnout, though,” Cline said. “We’ve won two or three tournaments this year. We came second in another, so these kids have done really well.
“I think if we come out and hit the ball and don’t stand up there, I think we can definitely (advance to the state tournament). We have enough kids here who’ve played with each other and really play the game well.”
Austin Hough can be reached at email@example.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 325. Follow Austin on Twitter @AustinHoughTGN