Nerves throw no curves at McAllister
Web Posted: 08/23/2009 12:00 CDT Nerves throw no curves at McAllister
By Lorne Chan - Express-News
SOUTH WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Before McAllister Park faced off against Peabody, Mass., in their Little League World Series opener Friday, the two teams sat across from each other in an otherwise empty cafeteria.
McAllister Park players were loud and laid-back while they ate dinner and joked around.
Peabody players sat silently. Some barely touched their food.
“You could sort of tell that on the other team, they were pretty nervous,” Zach Morrow said. “They had no one talking. Afterward, I was throwing away my trash, and they were throwing away full plates.”
Pregame dinners aren't accurate indicators of success, but Friday's meal showed some of McAllister Park's strength in its 10-1 victory against Peabody.
McAllister Park is having a ball here at the LLWS. And when it came time to play ball, the team's looseness helped handle the nerves that come with playing before 13,500 and on ESPN.
“Everybody gets nervous,” pitcher/catcher Travis Daves said. “But it doesn't take much for us to get relaxed and just play baseball.”
Entering today's game against Russellville, Ky., at 1 p.m., McAllister manager Mike Shull was quick to point out that a laid-back attitude doesn't mean laziness.
“They're comfortable, and they're confident,” Shull said. “They take this game very seriously, but what you see in their fun is how much they love this game.”
Familiarity is a big reason for McAllister's calm attitude. Because eight of McAllister's 12 players have been on this team for the past three years, most of the poise comes from having confidence in teammates.
Morrow had to move to third base from the outfield after a right arm injury to Drew Brooks moved Brooks from shortstop to first and set off a domino effect.
Friday, in the Little League World Series, was Morrow's first live game at third base. He plays shortstop during the Little League regular season but never third.
Morrow fielded two ground balls, including one in the first inning, and fielded both cleanly.
“I haven't taken a ground ball in a game in three months,” Morrow said. “After I got that first one, I wasn't worried about it.”
Brooks' injury also moved Daves up to the No. 1 pitcher.
Daves responded by throwing a complete game Friday, only allowing three hits and walking one.
Next up on the mound is John Shull, the manager's son, who will pitch for the first time since feeling soreness in his right arm in an Aug. 7 game. He said he's back at 100 percent.
“I hope I can do really good,” John Shull said. “I'm more excited than nervous to get to pitch in front of so many people and on TV.”
After such a convincing victory against Peabody, Mass., what will the laid-back McAllister Park boys do today against Russellville, Ky.?
“I think we should just go out there and play like we did on Friday every time,” Morrow said.