With a recent clean sweep of District 1, the Destin All Stars have earned the right to take the field in the Florida Little League Section 1 8-10 year-old Tournament this weekend in Fort Braden in the best two out of three against District 20 winners Chaires-Capitola.
The first game is slated for 10 a.m. Saturday and the second at 2 p.m. If a third game is needed it is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday.
In order to get ready for the big game, the Destin All Stars put in the time on the practice field this week.
“We’re running a lot of five-on-five, scrimmaging against ourselves,” said Destin Coach Doug Erlich. “And we’re doing a lot of hitting and pitching … that’s what it takes at this age. Especially the pitching.
“The key is to throw strikes. When you start walking players and throwing passed balls, that’s what hurts you.”
In the recent District 1 tournament, Destin’s go-to pitcher Fisher Baltzell went the distance in the championship game against Niceville, striking out 11, giving up no walks and only one hit.
“Our pitching is really looking good. It’s starting to catch up to our hitting,” Erlich said.
No. 2 in the pitching arsenal is Christian Phillips-Cox.
“Then we have three or four guys that are bunched up,” Erlich said, adding that can man the mound.
As for the Destin bats, Erlich said it’s promising.
“Our hitting is looking great right now. Everybody is hitting the ball from top to bottom. We don’t have a weak spot. Our eight and nine hitters could be one and two,” he said. “I think we can be the best team in the state.
“I always tell them, ‘The only team that can beat us is ourselves,' ” he said. “If we go over there and play our game, we’re going to win.”
However, if they make mistakes and errors it’s anybody’s game.
In the District championship game, the Destin All Stars played error free ball.
“I think we’re going to go out there and keep on being savage like the team says we are,” Erlich said.
Prior to every game, the team puts eye-black tape under their eyes that reads “Savage,” plus they have a team chant that reiterates how they want to play - “savage.”
And the meaning behind “savage” for the All Stars is “work hard and kill them … we take no prisoners,” Erlich said.
“We are going to try and win for Destin," Erlich said. "It’s been a long time since Destin has been there. So we’re going to go out there and take it.”
The winner of the Section tournament will advance to the state tournament in Vero Beach next weekend.