After making its way through the Nevada District 1 Little League Tournament fairly untested, en route to a championship victory, the Sparks Centennial 10-year-old All-Star team is now setting its sights on a state crown possibly awaiting it in Carlin.
“I’m super excited,” Sparks Centennial coach Brett Husted said. “Last week it was a little tough because we started practice again, but now the last four or five days have been good. They’re nine and 10-years-old so you have to keep them focused and busy. At this point they’re ready to go. They just want to play right now. It should be interesting.”
It has been almost two weeks since the SC 10s took the District 1 throne after defeating the squads from Sparks National (12-1), Carson Valley (16-3), Carson City, rival Washoe (19-10) and runner-up Reno National (15-6). Now, as Centennial gears up for its trip to Carlin, the team is concentrating on getting back into the groove of its recent winning ways.
“Practices have been good. They’ve been really good,” Husted said. “We try to keep them focused. They know because we’ve taught them from the beginning that they have to practice like they play. If they come out here and they’re dragging and going through the motions, that’s how they’re going to play in the game because they won’t be up to speed and they won’t be used to it. They’ve done a really good job of keeping their head straight and I try to keep them out of that water park too.”
While Husted is trying to make sure the kids do not expend too much energy off of the baseball diamond, other coaches on the staff were thinking about how long it’s been since Sparks Centennial last represented District 1 at state.
“The last time I can remember a Sparks Centennial team going to state was with 2011 Spanish Springs High graduate and all-state second baseman Tanner Oates and those guys, those 9-10s,” assistant coach Ray Charles said. “That’s a good nine or 10 years back.”
The significance of that fact has not lost on Husted either.
“It is an honor. A lot of these kids, we’ve had them in little league here since farm and T-ball and I was hoping to keep them all together. The chemistry with the kids on this team, I mean it’s awesome. That’s a part of their success. A lot of these kids travel when they’re not in league and they travel together and it’s really fun for them,” Husted said. “It’s really fun for me too because we’re getting to represent our league. I want to do everything possible that we can to give the knowledge that I have to these little guys, so hopefully they can represent us well.”
Win or lose, those around Sparks Centennial will be proud of the all-star squad that has returned the league to prominence. That does not mean that the 10s are not going for it all when they open the double-elimination state tournament this Saturday at 1 p.m. against District 2 representative (Las Vegas) Silverado.
“I’m expecting a battle. It’s going to be like us playing Washoe,” Husted said. “Washoe knew they always were the ones to beat and were the ones to beat in this. Silverado in the past few years has been the team coming out of there that’s been beating Washoe so it’ll be a good test. I expect a few more breaking balls so I’ve been throwing them a little more breaking balls in batting practice. Besides that, they just have to go out there and play their game like they’ve always been doing.”