Early exit stuns Shady Hills
By STEVE LEE
© St. Petersburg Times,
SHADY HILLS -- All-star manager Mike Fackender felt his 7-8 Shady Hills baseball team had the potential to top last year's post-season performance, but it didn't come close.
Shady Hills, which advanced to the District 15 final last year, bowed out of the double-elimination series last week in two games by dropping the opener 14-13 to defending champion and tournament host Ocala before a 12-6 loss to Lady Lake.
Undaunted by those results, Fackender says next year's group could fare better.
"We had a lot of 7-year-olds (half of the 14-player squad) and most of those kids are going to be returning next year," Fackender said. On Thursday, Shady Hills erased a 6-0 deficit against Ocala by scoring six runs in the third inning before scoring six more in the fourth to take a 12-6 lead. Fackender attributed his team's slow start to what he felt was a slow pitching machine (at this age level, pitching machines deliver baseballs to the batter).
"They turned the machine back down slow again, so we didn't do nothing the first two innings," said Fackender, who felt the machine delivered balls at around 40 mph rather than at the suggested speed of 42 mph.
"When we practiced, the ball seemed a little faster than that."
Shady Hills coach Paul Ladouceur agreed.
"The kids got up thinking (the machine) was going to be winging it a little faster, so they got a little ahead of it," Ladouceur said.
However, Shady Hills' James Salerno timed a pitch just right in the third, belting a grand slam to highlight the six-run inning.
Tyler Burgan and Ryan Perkins each had run-scoring hits for Shady Hills in the fourth.
Shady Hills didn't waste any time in Friday's game, taking a 6-0 lead in the first inning after a three-run home run by Cody Boland. "And then," Fackender said, "we just fell asleep; just absolutely nothing after that.
"They were so pumped, but after they got that six-run lead it just wasn't there anymore."
Shady Hills' defensive standouts for the tournament included pitcher Matthew Lisk (pitchers stand to either side of the pitching machine to field their position), infielders Burgan, Cabral, Justin Ladouceur and catcher D.J. King.
Fackender's Cardinals and Ladouceur's Astros tied for first with identical 13-8 records in Shady Hills' five-team division this season.
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