Lafayette Little League: PARK NEWS: Waco Play Begins

Thursday, August 4
Waco Play Begins

Lafayette Little League's All-Star team has talent and a lot of it.

If not, it wouldn't be preparing to compete in the Southwest Regional Tournament in Waco, Texas for the next week with a trip to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., on the line.

Lafayette coach Leland Padgett certainly knows that, but he also understands that raw skills can only bring a team so far.

That's why Padgett and his group of 12-and-under All-Stars operate under a set of rules designed to keep the focus on the team.

It's certainly worked so far with Lafayette returning to the Southwest Regional for the first time since 2007.

The local All-Stars begin a three-game pool play competition at 6 tonight against Midland, Texas, followed by a 6 p.m. Saturday meeting with White Hall, Ark., and then an 8:30 encounter with Pearland, Texas on Monday.

All the games will be played at Marvin Norcross Field in Waco, Texas.

"No doubt, it still comes down to being a team," said Padgett, who has experience with that issue ranging from his professional football days in the USFL to college ball to high school coaching down to coaching his son in All-Star baseball.

"That's why we have the seven-second rule," Padgett said.

It allows players to have seven seconds for themselves — to either celebrate something good or agonize over something that goes wrong.

"If it's not gone in seven seconds, the players know they're going to face the consequences," Padgett said. "That's God's number. It definitely works both way. I hate self-pity. I personally think that emotions play too large of a role in baseball. Baseball is a game of failure.

"It's not about you. It doesn't matter if we're talking about success or failure. I've found that it works well, especially with young kids."

Besides that mental edge, Padgett is confident that pitching depth can be a strength for Lafayette. Haden Erbe is scheduled to be today's starter, but also sport such arms as Ethan Hines, Nate Cox, Tyler Miller, Hunter Bergeron and Joe Battaglia..

"From what we've heard, Arkansas has a kid who throws right at 70," Padgett said. "We may not have that, but I think we have five pitchers who are very capable that nobody knows about."

In the state tournament, Lafayette was powered largely by the big bats of Nick Fruge, Michael Guidry, Miller and Cox.

"In a tournament like this, you have to be able to make adjustments and we are constantly working on that," Padgett said. "We practice like that. We'll work against a fast pitcher and then a slow pitcher, things like that, constantly to get them ready."

The history of this regional is that the teams in Pool 1 with Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas typically rule over the Pool B teams from Colorado, Mississippi, Oklahoma and New Mexico.

Other factors that could aid Lafayette's cause are the help of former coach Gary Marks, who took the 2007 team to Waco, and the starting times.

Marks will be scouting the other teams, so Padgett and his current staff can focus on their team.

"He's been a huge help," Padgett said. "In addition to scouting the other teams, it just helps sometimes to have a different set of eyes on the team. Sometimes he can see some things that maybe I can't see."

With the heat beating down on Northeast Texas in recent weeks, Lafayette is one of only two teams in the eight-team field that won't be playing a game at 2:30 p.m. The other is Boulder, Colo.

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