SMC heads to south regional


St. Mary Central 11- and 12-year-old All-Star coach Ronnie Ratcliff says he has nine youngsters on his squad that he feels he could start on the mound and be effective with.

So naturally the assumption would be that pitching is the team’s strength, right?

Not according to Ratcliff, who points to unity instead, as Ratcliff noted that the core of his team has been playing together since they were eight years old and also have played travel ball.

He said team approach is something his squad has bought into.

“They’re really coming into the understanding that it takes 12 (players) to win,” he said. “It takes a team effort. Our motto all year has been one team, one goal and that’s something we’re trying to live off of right now.”

On Friday, the squad will take its next step in its postseason journey as it begins play in the Majors South Regional in Sulphur at 1 p.m. against Moss Bluff.

St. Mary Central enters the tournament after recording a 4-0 mark in district, outscoring its opponents in district 35-14.

While he chose unity as the strength instead of pitching, Ratcliff will certainly have a deep pitching staff to rely on, something that gives him options heading into state.

In addition to unity, St. Mary Central also has state level experience as six of the team’s 12 players participated as members of the 12U All-Star team a year ago that participated in the Majors North Regional in Alexandria, while two others participated as members of St. Mary Central’s 9- and 10-year-old All-Stars in state tournament play in the AAA Minors South Regional in Ponchatoula in 2012.

“Having eight of the 12 with (postseason) experience is very encouraging and very helpful,” Ratcliff said.

As for what he expects at the south regional, naturally Ratcliff expects things to get tougher.

“You have teams that play quality baseball, and that’s one thing that we’ve got to keep doing,” he said.

Tournament play will continue in the double-elimination bracket until a champion is crowned Tuesday.

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