By Gianna Addario
---- — The two Danvers Little League teams, Danvers American and Danvers National, know a thing or two about what it takes to win the District 15 Williamsport All-Star Tournament.
Having won the District 15 championship the past two years, Danvers National in 2011 and Danvers American last year, both teams are up to the challenge of doing so again.
With an all new roster, except for Tom Mento from last year’s championship team, it’s going to take great pitching, solid defense, quick decision base-running and team chemistry. Of the 13 kids they’re carrying this year three are 11-year-olds that have never played with this group of 12-year-olds in a tournament.
Danvers American first-year manager Michael Holland is convinced that his team is capable of all of those things.
“Our team strengths are having players with high baseball IQs and team chemistry,” noted Holland. “We have kids who work hard and understand what it takes to win.
“We talk about winning every pitch of every inning of every game, one game at a time. All we talk about is winning and what it takes to get it done.”
It doesn’t stop there. A big key for Danvers American to repeat is a complete team effort. Holland isn’t relying on any one player to win them games, instead he will call upon the entire club during the tournament. To kick off the tournament, the boys even decided to look alike with their newly dyed, blonde hair.
Opening night for Danvers American kicks off against a very strong Beverly tomorrow at Stage Fort Park in Gloucester (7:30 p.m.) in the first of four pool play games.
The pitching staff is made up of five players, all of whom are capable of making a quality start. Danvers American isn’t singling out anyone in particular for tomorrow night’s start, but Holland has a good amount of hurlers to choose from.
“Our philosophy is play together, play hard, play to win,” added Holland.
Also on the coaching staff is Scott Taylor and Dwight Morrison, while Danvers High baseball players, A.J. Couto, Joe Strangie and Alex Taylor have also been helping out during practice.
“Those boys have been a tremendous addition to our staff,” Holland said of Couto, Strangie and Taylor. “They provide the young kids with perspective and understanding accountability on the field.”
After Wednesday’s game against Beverly, Danvers American will face Rockport on Thursday, Gloucester American on Saturday and Boxford next Monday to round out pool play. The top two teams in each of the three District 15 pools move on to the double elimination round.
As for Danvers National, it returns three players from last season — Drew Semons, Jay McPherson and Tim Galvin. The other 11 all-stars are new to the team this year. Dave Gotts returns as the manager once again.
The Danvers National all-star team heads into Williamsport tournament action tomorrow against Hamilton-Wenham, followed by Ipswich on Thursday, Topsfield on Saturday and Amesbury next Monday.
DANVERS AMERICAN L.L. WILLIAMSPORT ALL-STARS Brett Palladino Joseph Thibodeau Theodore Wilson Matthew Brennan Cooper Hanson Colby Holland Tim Lam Thomas Mento Cameron Morrison Anthony Olszak Kevin Pohle Matthew Taylor Jonathan Weimert Manager: Michael Holland Coaches: Scott Taylor and Dwight Morrison DANVERS NATIONAL L.L. WILLIAMSPORT ALL-STARS Drew Semons Jared McPherson Tim Galvin Jack O'Neill Matt Ambeliotis Archie Boule Almany Vargas Colin Desmond Mike Morrill Matt King Aaron Paskowski Matt Luiti Ian Paskowski Manager: Dave Gotts