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Headed to state
Newton all-stars qualify for state tourney
From left to right: Johnny Crow, Drew Cole, Skylav Ellis, Luke Barrett, Isiah Biggers, Brandon Ellis, Johnny Crow, Colton Fincher, Jamarcus Pressley, Justin Latimore, Bryan Johnson and Jordan Nolley. Back row from left to right: Head coach Kyle Ellis and assistant coach RJ Johnson.

The seven/eight year-old Newton National League All-Star team coached by Kyle Ellis has dominated the competition and is headed to the 2014 Georgia Rookie Baseball State Tournament in Warner Robins.

What sets this team apart from most of its competition is the age of the players. Despite this being a seven/eight year old league, most of the teams that play Newton have majority eight year olds. However, half of Newton’s team is made of seven year-old kids.

“Most of these teams we’re playing have eight year olds and that’s it,” Ellis said.

“That’s kind of a rare thing. There’s 12 kids on (our) team and half of them are of the younger age group. They’re doing great,” Ellis said. “They’re just well-rounded. Every kid on the team hits the ball. We’ve got great pitching.”

The team went 8-0 under head coach Kyle Ellis in district and sectional games.

“Jordan [Nolley] is on shortstop. He’s been there all year and he’s made some outstanding plays. Our, outfield they get a pop-up, they catch it. [We’ve got] just great defense and that’s what’s been winning the games for us, the defense and the hitting,” Ellis said.

The Washington and Wilkes County team, which Newton beat 8-5 to advance to the state tournament, has been the most challenging team they’ve faced according to Ellis. The only other team that came close to earning a victory over the Newton National League All-Star team was the Newton American League All-Star team that almost beat them in the district tournament, but lost 8-6.

The National League all-stars run-ruled most of the other teams they played, winning games by double-digit runs with scores such as 16-2 and 14-1.

“We’ve had some close games and they really have come together as a team. They’re geling, they’re working together and having fun. They’re having fun, they’re playing hard and they’re winning,” Ellis said.

Ellis is anticipating tough competition in Warner Robins because the teams are great just like his, and he knows his team could lose.

“Any team can be beat at any given time,” Ellis said. “Every game we’ve played I went into it thinking we can get beat. I never have thought that we’re better than anybody. Basically you can’t think like that. You gotta go in thinking you can get beat and whoever makes the fewest mistakes in the game is usually the team that wins.”

“That’s one thing they do good. When they make a mistake they get over it. They don’t dwell on it and they make the next play. If we don’t win another game, I’m happy. I hope we win of course,” Ellis said.

Ellis added that the team making it is an accomplishment in itself and that the players are a great group of kids.

“I couldn’t be more proud of these boys,” Ellis said. “They’re such good players, they’re easy to coach and they listen. They make my job real easy. They listen and they can do what you tell them and comprehend what you say and do it.”