The names and faces were different for the Westport Little League team that opened its season on Monday night at Trumbull's Unity Park, but the goals and expectations remain the same this summer as they were in 2013.
While the comparisons to last year's team that captured the attention of the entire town as it made its way to the Little League World Series are natural, coach Andy Thompson is quick to point out that this team has its own identity and is ready to accomplish its own goals.
"These guys played together last year," said Thompson, who has coached this group for the past two years. "They just love playing baseball and I love coaching baseball. We're here to win and to have fun. Last year's team accomplished great things, but we're here to win for this year's Westport team."
Westport began its season with a 12-2 win in four innings over North End on Monday to begin pool play. Frazier Lyons hit a grand slam and William Eichhorn and James Trinkle also hit home runs.
"It was nice to just to get out and start playing real baseball," Thompson said. "We've had a couple of scrimmages, but to just come out here go about our business and get a win is important."
Trinkle pitched all four innings and struck out nine batters. Thompson expects Eichhorn, Adam Petro, Nick Rossi, Lyons and Michael Thompson to also see time on the mound.
"(Trinkle is) a strong left-handed pitcher as people saw tonight," Thompson said. "He's got a good snappy fastball and a good curveball; he used all his pitches tonight."
Luc Yokoi will serve as catcher for Westport, while Chris Veneruso, Sam Robin, Andrew Moy, Thompson, Leo Aronson and Nicholas Rossi will man the infield positions. Lyons, Blake Lawrence, Petro and Kevin Rabacs will play the outfield.
"For us it's going to be a team performance every game," Andy Thompson said. "We are going to put nine kids on the field. It's going to be different every game, we expect different guys to step in and contribute all the time."
Westport plays its games in District 2, which is divided up into two pools of five teams. Westport (1-0) has three more games left in pool play -- against Fairfield National (June 25), Stratford (June 30) and Trumbull American (July 3). The top two teams in each pool advance before the double elimination tournament begins July 7.
"We want to win every game we play; that's the goal the team has," Andy Thompson said. "If that works out and we make it through that would be excellent."
Thompson and assistant Tom Whalen are the only two coaches on the staff, leaving a void in the dugout. To help manage, players in the Westport dugout alternate innings as the first base coach.
"It's a special opportunity to get the boys out there and into the game, and they love it," Thompson said.
District 2 has produced three Little League World Series representatives in the past four years, keeping expectations high locally. Read Full Article
"The boys are maturing; they are all working on their swinging," Thompson said. "We get them for the summer and I think they've all grown as young men."