By Phil Stacey
---- — If the third time’s the charm, then the Salem Little League all-stars are in for a good summer.
Salem, a team where the majority of its players have spent the last three summers playing together, begins Williamsport all-star play tomorrow by taking on Salem National in their District 16 tournament opener at Wyoma in Lynn.
“Many of these kids are comfortable and used to playing with each other,” said manager Joe Parshley, who has coached the team in each of the last two years as 10 and 11-year-olds before getting the call to lead this year’s Williamsport squad. “We had good teams each of the last two years, but ran into Peabody West both times and lost. We’re hoping for a better outcome this year.”
Parshley said his team’s biggest strength lies in its cohesiveness: while Salem doesn’t possess two or three powerhouse hitters or flamethrowers on its roster, all 14 players on the roster are capable of stepping up and performing in the clutch.
“We’re solid up and down the lineup,” said Parshley. “Plus, their attitudes are all top notch. It’s a terrific group to coach.”
Salem will turn to Mikey Santana, Joey Parshley (the coach’s son) and Manny Ravelo to head up its pitching staff. The trio of 12-year-old right-handers are all capable hurlers that the manager feels comfortable turning to at any time against any opponent.
Santana, a left-handed hitter who played on Salem’s Williamsport team last year, will also bat leadoff and should ignite the offense with his speed. When he’s not pitching, said Parshley, he’ll patrol center field.
Supplying the power in the middle of the Salem lineup should be Leo Jalbert, Manny Ravelo and Jayco Pena. All three are first basemen; Jalbert also plays outfield while Ravelo can pitch in a relief role.
Kenny Girard, Parshley’s nephew, can catch or play the outfield, while his cousin Parshley plays center field when he’s not pitching. Second baseman Chris Barnes, third baseman Ethan Gonzalez, infielder Joesnel Perez and third baseman Johnathan O’Keny all are multi-position players who may also see time in the outfield.
Thomas Estella and Nathaniel Minaya can both catch or play shortstop for Salem; Cris Kolodziej is another reliever whom Parshley can put at any one of the infield positions as well. Adam Pinto is an outfielder who figures to make his presence felt.
Derek O’Leary would have been one of Salem’s top pitchers, but will miss the all-star tournament due to a broken arm.
SALEM LITTLE LEAGUE ALL-STAR ROSTER Joey Parshley Kenny Girard Jayco Pena Manny Ravelo Cris Kolodziej Chris Barnes Ethan Gonzalez Mikey Santana Nathaniel Minaya Thomas Estella Adam Pinto Joesnel Perez Johnathan O'Keny Leo Jalbert Joe Parshley (manager) Daren Estella (assistant coach) Phil LeClare (assistant coach)