The Bridgeport 9-10-Year-Old Little League All Stars were busy at practice Wednesday evening at the city's Recreation Complex. The group will return to action tomorrow at the Bridgeport Little League Field to wrap up a taxing week of practice.
The current practice is aimed at trying to help the group take the next step in their Little League journey. And that is to capture the Southeast Regional championship.
The West Virginia State champions will be leaving Friday in an effort to make that happen. Even better for the Bridgeport squad is that they’ll
be representing the Mountain State on a field within the state. The regional will be played at Ceredo-Kenova.
“We’re just brushing up on everything at this point. Our pitchers are all throwing 20 to 25 pitches, we’re hitting the ball and doing situational stuff on defense,” Manager Wayne Goodwin said. “The kids are excited and they’re ready to go. We’ve had a good week of practice so far and we hope that helps us in the regional.”
Bridgeport is guaranteed three games in blind pool play starting Saturday. The locals will face Florida Saturday at 2 p.m., Virginia on Sunday at 11 a.m. and then North Carolina Monday at 8 p.m. All teams in the tournament that manage a 2-1 record will advance from the blind pool.
Emily Riggs will be the likely starter for the Bridgeport squad in the first game. Goodwin said she’s been the starter in the major tournament games this year.
The team will also head down South with a little less stress relating to making ends meet. A Tuesday evening fundraiser – a bucket drive – in front of the Bridgeport Fire Department on Main Street and Bridgeport High School on Johnson Avenue, resulted in more than $2,000 raised.
“The community support is so amazing,” Goodwin said. “It’s really overwhelming and it’s appreciated.”
The following is a capsule of the players for Bridgeport with their positions played and a comment from Goodwin:
A.J. Goodwin, CF, P, 1B: “When the games start, I don’t have to worry about him. He’s always ready. He played on this team last year as a nine-year-old and that experience helped us this year. He’s our leadoff hitter.”
Gabe Zummo, 1B, P: “Gabe is another player that got valuable time last year as a nine-year-old and it’s proving beneficial this year. He’s the number two hitter in our lineup. He’s a steady player that gives us great leadership.”
Ryan Goff, 3B, P: “He’s one of the nine-year-olds on the squad. He pitches a little and is really strong for us at third base. For a nine-year-old, he’s a very strong player.”
Nick Stalnaker, SS, P: “Whenever we’ve needed him, he’s done a really good job pitching for this team. He’s very steady at shortstop and makes a lot plays for the team there. Plus, he’s our cleanup hitter and comes through at the plate.”
Ben Mossburg, C, P: “He does a lot of catching, but if we need him to he can go out and pitch. He played last year as a nine-year-old and from last year he’s probably our most improved player. He’s done really well for us this year.”
Emily Riggs, P, SS, CF, C – “She’s our number one pitcher. She throws the hardest of anyone we have. She can also play just about any position. She’s a good player and our biggest player and I think that intimidates some of the Little League teams.”
Ryan Knapp, 2B, P: - “Ryan is our regular second basement, but he’ll pitch some for us. He just does everything so fundamentally solid. He’s another nine and he’s the type of baseball player that always makes the play.”
Drew Harbert, RF: - “Drew’s the guy that carries the big bat for us. What’s really good is that he carried that big bat into the state tournament. He’s hit the ball hard all year and he hit the ball hard at the state tournament.”
Frank Why, LF: “Frank came up as a nine-year-old. He managed to come up with some big hits for the team at the state tournament. He’s a kid that you can count on to do a really good job for you.”
Nathan Mullins, LF: “Another nine-year-old on the team, Nathan is the type of kid that whatever you ask him to do or whatever you need from him, you get. You can count on a 100 percent effort from him.”
Nathan Paulsen, RF: - “Nathan is just a hard-nosed type of baseball player and that’s what you need on a team. He takes things very serious and is the type of kid that always wants to do a good job.”
Goodwin is assisted by Gregg Goff and Vinnie Zummo. He said the group’s ability to work together has been beneficial for everyone.
“We work very well together,” Goodwin said. “That helps this team, and has really made this an even more enjoyable experience.”
Editor's Note: Photo shows the "bucket drive" in full swing Tuesday along Main Street.