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Briarwood All Stars May Have to Lean on Pitching and Defense

The Briarwood Little League 12U All Stars are gearing up for the District 44 Tournament, the first step towards the Little League World Series.

The Briarwood 12U All Stars will open the District 44 Tournament on Thursday against Los Altos. In the team’s preparation for its opener, the team worked extensively on its defense at Monday’s practice. Pitching and defense will be critical for Briarwood this summer if the players want to make a deep run in this summer’s playoffs.

“We still have to get used to each other team defense wise,” remarked Briarwood Manager John Dagnino. “But they are such good athletes, I think it’s going to come pretty quick. Which is important because I think we are going to have to rely on our defense. Our pitching is pretty good, but other teams are going to put the bat on the ball and if we don’t play solid defense, we are going to hurt ourselves. We are going to rely heavily on our defense and hopefully, our offense will come around.”

One of the key players for Briarwood this All Star season will be Ian Denny. The southpaw will be a key figure on the mound. At this age, lefty pitchers are still far more unique as hitters are more accustomed to facing right-handed throwers.


“Ian throws pretty hard, and has pretty good movement,” praised Dagnino on his left-handed ace. “We have five pitchers that we can rely on and that’s a big deal. Especially strategizing since pitchers can only pitch a certain amount of innings. Having a lot of pitchers can help out big time.”

One of those other pitchers is Mike Castro, who will be crucial to both sides for Briarwood. Defensively on the mound and at first base, but also at the plate as he’s one of the bigger, more powerful bats on the squad.

“I feel like our preparations are going really well, I think we’re getting the proper reps in to be ready for all scenarios we could see in the games” chimed Castro on how the team is looking heading into Thursday’s opener. “I think if our offense comes through, we should be good.”

One particular player to look out for that could be a good jolt of energy for Briarwood is Victor Hernandez. The 10-year-old is one of the rare 12U All Stars that isn’t already 11 or 12. Hernandez looked to be one of the more sure-handed infielders at Monday’s practice, despite being younger than his teammates.

“Our infield is doing good,” responded Hernandez on the team’s biggest strength. “Our bats are alright, but our infield and outfield have been doing better.”

If Briarwood is to make noise in the tournament the bats will have to come through to support the infield and outfield defense. Denny believes his squad is solid enough in all areas, including offensively, to get the job done.

“I think we are a really well-balanced squad, well-rounded team all around,” said Denny.

The Briarwood All Stars will get the chance to start proving Denny right when they take the field together for the first time on Thursday.


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