It’s early, but so far, so good for Ashland Little League, which is 2 for 2 in producing district champions to this point.
The Ashland Senior Leaguers toppled Catlettsburg in back-to-back games on Friday night. On the same evening, Ashland’s 8U All-Stars trumped Russell-Flatwoods, 11-3, for a title in the newly sanctioned tournament for that age group.
It’s the inaugural season for Ashland Little League — the American and National leagues combined prior to the season.
The change didn’t shake up Ashland Senior second-year manager Matt McDowell’s squad too much, although it does feature a handful of “National” boys.
“Incorporating more National kids into All-Stars is a little different, but it’s good,” McDowell said.
NeShawn Peppers and Landon McDowell together pitched a shutout in Game 1 against Catlettsburg on Friday. Ashland won, 3-0, as Peppers delivered 5 2-3 innings. McDowell tossed 1 1-3 frames and picked up a save.
“It’s not the best I’ve seen NeShawn pitch, but he battled,” McDowell said. “We turned two double plays, too. And there was one ball hit to the fence; our center fielder tracked it so well that it held their guy to a single. Things like that helped us win.”
Tamel Smith, Eli Miller and McDowell each accounted for an RBI in the first contest.
Miller and Gage Crooks footed the rubber in Game 2 — a 13-3, five-inning victory. Miller went 4 1-3 and Crooks retired the final two Catlettsburg batters. Peppers stood out with the bat as Ashland capitalized on opposing-pitching control problems.
Ashland avenged its losses suffered at this juncture at year ago to Catlettsburg.
“We were ecstatic,” McDowell said. “Several of the kids were on the team last year, and we felt like we had a shot last year. We kinda ran out of pitching, and Catlettsburg took advantage. For those kids bummed out last year, it’s pretty exciting to beat a good team with good coaches.”
Landon McDowell, Jack Heineman, Tre Troxler and Peppers will make their fourth state-tournament trip as Little League All-Stars. It’s No. 2 for Miller and Crooks.
Ashland will represent District 6 at the state level on July 11 at South Laurel High School. Matt McDowell is unsure of how many teams will be in the field.
“I don’t see why we couldn’t compete there,” McDowell said. “We’re a scrappy group. We have good team speed. We’re pretty deep in pitching and we have a very versatile team.”
Ashland Senior League’s roster consists of 13- to 16-year-olds.
Managed by Derek Runyon, Ashland’s 8U team rolled past Catlettsburg twice, Grayson and Russell-Flatwoods in a six-team tournament. The All-Stars outscored their opponents, 62-10. Ashland and runner-up Russell will both represent the area at the state tournament, which is scheduled for July 5-8 in Richmond.
More to come
Several levels haven’t yet crowned champions.
If weather permits, District 6 softball will wrap up by Saturday in 10-12s. It could conclude as early as Friday at Russell-Flatwoods complex. If the winner of this week’s Boyd County/Raceland game prevails on Friday at 6, it will earn the title.
In 8-10s softball, Grayson is hosting Area 1 and Ashland is the site of Area 2. While area play may reach conclusion by Thursday, the district title contest dates are to be determined.
The following places are serving as sites for baseball All-Stars: Grayson (Area 1 10-12s); Olive Hill (Area 1 8-10s); Ashland National (Area 2 10-12s, Area 2 8-10s); and Ashland American (9-11s).
Area 10-12s play and area 8-10s action are scheduled to wrap up by Saturday. The district championships will be held at Ashland National (10-12s) and Olive Hill (8-10s) on to-be-determined dates.
The District 6 9-11 championship is set for Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Ashland American’s Water Works Field. If a second game is necessary in the double-elimination event, it is scheduled for Saturday at 10 a.m.
Visit the “Ky District 6 Little League” Facebook page for scores, schedule updates due to weather and other information regarding northeastern Kentucky All-Stars.
Reach AARON SNYDER at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2664. Follow @DIndependentQB on Twitter.