By Gianna Addario
---- — The Salem all-star team has all the necessary personnel to make a deep run during this year’s District 16 Williamsport all-star tournament.
The only thing working against this Salem team is the fact that it hasn’t been able to have many outdoor practices due to the rain that fell earlier this week.
”The rain has just wreaked havoc on the fields this week,” said Salem manager Steve Ouellette, who coaches the White Sox during the regular season. “I think that’s our only weakness, that we haven’t gotten outdoors to practice much. We went indoors at the high school and had a few batting practices at Extra Innings, but there’s nothing like playing outside and going over certain situations in the field.”
Salem has a good mixture and versatility on this year’s team. All but one of the 12 players on the roster are 12-year-olds, with an entirely new group of all-stars this summer. Most of them, however, have been playing together since they were eight.
“We’re pretty much a solid team,” added Oullette. “We have multi-sport athletes with a lot of speed and they can play many different positions.”
As far as hitting goes, Oullette is confident that everyone in the lineup can contribute. “There are a lot of contact hitters, but we do have some power hitters,” he said. “Everybody is capable of hitting the ball, and at end of the day that helps. The key is going to be timely hitting, playing good defense and avoiding baserunning mistakes. We need to do the things that we’re capable of doing.”
Ruben Baez will get the start in Salem’s first game against Swampscott tomorrow at McArthur Park in Peabody (4 p.m.). In all, five or six others on the team are ready to take the mound as neededrow if needed.
“Ruben’s an athletic kid and can throw the ball pretty well,” Oullette said. “We have to make the plays behind him and avoid the mental errors in the field.
“We’re OK in the pitching department. If you give these teams extra outs, they’ll make you pay— so we can’t do that. We want to get rid of those first inning jitters fast. A lot of these kids played in the 11-year-old districts last year, but this is a completely different situation. We’ll see what happens when they get under the big lights.”
This is Oullette’s first year as a majors manager. He’s joined by coaches Sean O’Keefe and Frank Baez.
If Salem wins tomorrow, they’ll play winner of Wyoma/Nahant on Thursday. If they fall to Swampscott, they’ll play the loser of the Wyoma/Nahant matchup.
SALEM LITTLE LEAGUE WILLIAMSPORT ALL-STARS Bryan Palacios Kyle Ouellette Ruben Baez Bryan Pena Matthew Silva Michael Santana Bobby Reynolds Aaron Fournier Andrew Fournier Billy Beauregard Jhoan Vago Quinn Gallante-Barrett Manager: Steve Ouellette Coaches: Sean O'Keefe and Frank Baez