The Herts Under-14 All Stars go into battle this Saturday as the British youth baseball playoffs take centre-stage. We managed to speak with Manager, Kent Peterson, who is currently in the USA, via satellite linkup to get his thoughts on the big weekend ahead for the team.
hertsbaseball.com: This is your second year as the manager of the Herts U14 team. Last year the team had an amazing run going all the way to the final despite the majority of the 2010 championship-winning U14 team moving to the U17 team. 7 members of the 2011 team which reached the final have also moved up to the U17 league level. This is a brand new group of players which has had to face older or more experienced teams all year. Going into the playoffs, should the team try to set high expectations or should the approach be more realistic with emphasis on building a team to challenge for the title in 2013 or 2014?
KP: The greatest part of being a coach is not always represented in the amount of wins a team has each year. Each team is special in its own way, last year we were privileged to have a team that had many members with years of baseball experience. This year we have introduced a great game to a number of younger kids that are just as willing to go out and play the game to the best of their ability. In my mind, that is how a winning team is built, you must start with enthusiasm and the common goal of getting better each game. Then the W’s start to happen. That is what I find to be realistic.
hertsbaseball.com: The veterans in the team are Adam White, Callum Vangundy, Drew Mayhew and Gavin Peterson. There is pressure on the shoulders of these four young players to be the leaders this Saturday. Can they handle it?
KP: Those are four fine young men you mentioned, but I would add a couple more that maybe don’t get the limelight as much but are just as important. Ben Jones and Aaron Witter have contributed well to the team this year and although we haven’t had as many games this summer due to the weather I saw great strides by all those players already mentioned. Most noticeably Drew with his improved hitting and Adam has been on fire playing second base. Very exciting to see!
hertsbaseball.com: The playoffs will be staged at Grovehill Ballpark in Herts. Will home field advantage play a part?
KP: I will never disagree with the idea of home field advantage, it just seems to settle a younger team down quicker, same sights and feel to the game never hurts. I’ll take it!
hertsbaseball.com: Unfortunately, you will be overseas so the team will miss your presence this Saturday. What is your message to the players ahead of the playoffs?
KP: Hello from the States and best of luck. I really miss watching the boys and girls play and I know they will try their best, that is all I’ve asked of them. To the team, just believe in yourselves and try your best, the rest will take care of itself.
hertsbaseball.com: Aspi Dimitrov will be standing in as the coach of the team while you are away. Do you have any last-minute instructions for Aspi?
KP: Aspi and his efforts is the backbone to the club, he’s really the unsung hero of the organization and will be a great replacement. His knowledge of the game and his patience with the team is amazing and I’m sure they will put forth a great effort and show us all the joy of playing baseball, because in the end that’s what it is all about. Best of luck and go Herts!