By: Matt Rothman
It has been a magical run so far for the Parkland 12U little league baseball team.
Following their win at Sectionals, they are set to play in the State Championship for the second straight year.
The team is led by former professional baseball player Derek Andersen, along with Guido DeFalco and Matt Clary.
Although most of the kids don’t play travel baseball, that hasn’t stopped them from becoming the first team in Parkland Little League to ever play in consecutive State Championships.
“We are honored to have been given the opportunity to coach this group of talented young gentlemen,” said Andersen. “They have been dedicated and committed to this All-star process, and we are so appreciative. We want to thank our amazing community for coming out to support our boys.”
Parkland previously competed in the Districts and defeated North Springs 8-7. They then shut out Fort Lauderdale 6-0 before beating them in the Championship 4-2. Following this, Parkland competed in Sectionals and defeated Liberty twice, outscoring them 8-2 in the two games.
“I’m so happy to be in states, said first basemen, Ryder Andersen. “It was a team effort. We all did so well, but it’s not over yet. We are all still hungry and can’t wait to go out there and show the teams in states who Parkland is.”
In Game 1, Eric Tollefsen dominated on the mound. He recorded 12 of his 15 outs via the strikeout and allowed only two hits before Mason Coyne recorded the save. In Game 2, Jacob Hayes struck out eight in 4.2 innings. He allowed no earned runs before Nick Salerno closed the game out to record the save. Parkland’s pitching staff struck out 48 batters in the five tournament games and only allowed three earned runs.
“Our pitchers have a lot of confidence in throwing the ball over the plate because they trust the guys playing defense behind them,” Coach Anderson added. “We have turned some highlight-reel double plays in the infield and have made some amazing catches in the outfield.”
Offensively, the team is only hitting .270, but they have continued to grind out at-bats. Hayes leads the team with a .500 batting average, while Jovanni DeFalco recently recorded his first career home run in the District tournament.
Next, Parkland will compete in States on Friday, July 22, in St Pete at 3 p.m, where they will be taking on the reigning State Champions in Keystone Little League from Tampa Bay.
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- Matt Rothman is a 2018 graduate from Florida Gulf Coast University receiving his bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is now attending the University of Florida as a graduate student.
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