15-year-old team excited to be home

BELLEVILLE — For the Mifflin County Babe Ruth 15-year-olds, being at home in Belleville will be refreshing after two years of playing on the road in Altoona.

As 13-year-olds, this Mifflin County class fell in the state finals to Altoona, 8-5. Last summer, Mifflin County went 2-1 in pool play and did not advance into the final four. One of those wins came against eventual state champion Broomall-Newtown, 7-6, as the team tied for fifth place.

Mifflin County opens play in the Pennsylvania Babe Ruth 15-year-old tournament at 5:30 p.m. Thursday against Valley (Hazleton), the District 4 runner-up. Then on Friday, Mifflin County takes on Altoona, the District 8 runner-up, at 5:30 p.m.

Mifflin County does not play again until 5:30 p.m. Sunday against Broomall-Newtown (District 1). Mifflin County closes out pool play at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday against Franklin Township, the District 4 champion.

The semifinals are set for Wednesday and the state final is Thursday. The winner advances to the Mid-Atlantic Regional in Niskayuna, N.Y. (located in the Northern part of the state).

The manager of the team is Strodes Mills’ Bub Parker. He is being assisted by two other Strodes Mills coaches, Rod Henry and Paul Iannone.

Strodes Mills led the way with five all-stars: Blane Dickson, Shane Dippery, Hudson First, Rod Henry and Tristin Lockett.

Burnham and Belltown each placed three players on the all-star squad. Burnham’s Jacob Krepps, Jace Shoemaker and Noah Wright are playing; from Belltown, Camden Shawver, Evan Smith and Levi Wise.

Rounding out the team are McVeytown’s Seth Benson; Milroy’s Blaine Davis; Beaver Springs’ Cade Crossgrove and Yeagertown’s Holden Yocum.

Benson and Crossgrove are first time all-stars, while six players are three-timers.

Making it for the thrid time are Dickson. Dippery, First, Krepps. Shawver and Smith.

This will be Parker’s first all-star team. He comes into the state tournament with a 55-26 record after three years as the manager of the Strodes Mills team. Rod Henry, the coach, was a member of the 1987 14-15-year-old Mifflin County all-star team that won a state title.

“The boys are working hard,” Parker said, “If we throw strikes and make plays in the field, we will just fine.”

Mifflin County has an 8-2 record in Belleville, including winning the state title at the 13-year-old level last summer. As a host for a state tournament, Mifflin County has an overall record of 72-23 and has won 10 state titles at home. This will be the 19th time that Mifflin County has hosted a state tournament. Armagh Memorial Field in Milroy played host to the other 17 state events.

Mifflin County enters the 2017 post season with a 653-287 record including 71 times in the state’s final four, 23 state runners-up, 21 state titles, 24 appearances in the Mid-Atlantic Regional, three regional titles and one national championship.