Fallon Youth Baseball had arguably its best all-star season in Babe Ruth last year and three young coaches look to continue that trend in this week’s state tournaments.
Fallon will send all-star teams in all three age groups — prep (13-under), 14-under and 15-under — beginning today as they will try to advance to the regionals like one of last year’s clubs.
The 14-under won the state tournament last year in Fallon and competed in the regional in Arizona, while the prep club battled back in the consolation bracket despite losing to Sparks in the championship. The 15-under team went 1-2 with its win against Fernley as that age group has moved up to the high school’s junior varsity and varsity programs.
But 2013 has a different and younger feel to it.
Three former Greenwave players guide this year’s group of all-stars with Danny Bright (2008) coaching the 13-under, Justin Amos (2002) leading the 14-under and Teryn Smith (2010) heading the 15-under. Bright, Amos and Smith had solid careers with the Greenwave and will rely on their playing experience as well as coaching the younger levels to help Fallon perform well at the state tournament.
Amos, along with assistants Randy McClelland, who coached last year’s prep team, and Jeremy Beach, guided the Giants to a first-place finish during the regular season and then won the six-team postseason tournament last month. All three coaches played together for most of their Fallon careers, from Little League to Babe Ruth and high school, and will hope to see their playing success carry over into coaching.
Fallon faces the host, South Reno on Saturday at 3 p.m. in the double-elimination round with the winner playing Sparks on Sunday at 9 a.m. The losers of both games play at 6 p.m. with the championship set for Monday at noon. All games are played at Jack Tighe, which is located off Moana Lane in Reno behind the vacant lot that housed the old minor-league stadium.
Bright and Smith, on the other hand, experienced coaching this season for the first time after playing college ball.
Bright played at Lassen and then in Kentucky before returning home while Smith threw one season at Western Nevada before suffering a career-ending injury in Michigan. But both young coaches will be using their experience as players and observations from their high school and college coaches to help Fallon win this summer.
Along with trying to win the tournament, Smith hopes his team can carry over its experience into high school.
“We’ve run our practices. When they go to high school, it’s team oriented,” said Smith, who’s assisted by Nikko Parsley. “We wanted to stress that point and that you understand everything you do, you do as a team.”
Smith’s squad plays Sparks and South Tahoe at South Tahoe’s Babe Ruth field today in pool play and then takes on North Valleys on Saturday at 10 a.m. The single-elimination tournament starts Saturday night with the Nos. 1 and 4 seeds playing at 4 p.m. and the Nos. 2 and 3 at 7 p.m. The title game is Sunday at noon.
For Bright, he wants to keep the team involved just like his career in Fallon as a youngster.
“We’ve been working hard. We’re excited and ready to get going,” he said. “They’re eager to get on the field. They’re practicing every day and we got a great bunch.”
Fallon meets South Tahoe today at Jack Tighe at noon in pool play where the winner faces the winner of South Reno-Sparks at 6 p.m. The losers play each other at 3 p.m.
Teams will be seeded for the double-elimination tournament with the No. 1 and No. 4 seeds squaring off on Saturday at 9 a.m., followed by the Nos. 2 and 3 teams at noon. The consolation is at 6 p.m. while the winners play Sunday at noon. The championship is Monday at 9 a.m.
“They know it’s not going to be easy,” said Bright, who’s assisted by Dillon Hagen. “They know they have to go out there and compete. They know from previous years that the Reno all-stars are pretty good. I’m very excited to coach this group of kids. It’s a very solid group of kids.”
Unlike from when they played in Babe Ruth, the three coaches will see a much smaller field of teams in the tournament.
Teams from across the region would participate in all-stars but because of travel ball, high school summer ball and the economy, the number has drastically shrunk.
Reno West, which fuels McQueen and Reno, is not competing this summer after it had two teams last year. South Reno has only two teams this year while Fallon and Sparks are the only programs fielding all three.
Elko, Yerington, Carson and Fernley are nowhere to be seen. Elko disbanded its membership this season and is playing a recreational league, while Carson ran out of funding and relies solely on its Little League program.
“We’re starting to see Babe Ruth slowly getting there,” Bright said about the program dissipating in the region. “Either way to me, as long as they’re playing one or the other, it’s good. It keeps you in shape. I see travel baseball overtaking Babe Ruth.”
Staying involved in the game is the biggest thing regardless of the league and all-stars makes that happen for this year’s bunch of Fallon baseball players.
“Being good enough to make all-stars is one thing but keeping them involved in the game, it’s fun for them. You have to be elite,” Bright said.