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All-Stars ready to begin tourneys

All-star time isn’t just for the major leagues anymore.
Sluggers from across the community gathered at the Unicoi County Little League fields on Monday, June 22, to get in practice reps before taking part in the postseason for teams across the region.
“It has been exciting getting these groups together,” said Mike Barcel, UCLL president. “We have nice, skilled groups of guys for the 9- and 10-year-olds and the 11- and 12-year-olds.”
On Monday, the 9- and 10-year-olds squared off against the 11- and 12-year-olds in an inter-squad scrimmage.
“They are a great group of kids this year,” Barcel added about all the teams. “We have a great group of managers and coaches with a bunch of experience to bring to the kids and help in competition.”
The parents have also been instrumental to the success this year, according to UCLL treasurer Todd Hopson.
“Without the parents and volunteers we wouldn’t exist,” both members of the board added during Monday’s practice session.
It is somewhat of a bittersweet year for Barcel, as he steps down after this year as president of the league.
“We’ve enjoyed it,” Barcel said. “I don’t want to leave anyone out. I have a great core of people and I couldn’t do this without them. We vote, talk about things … I hope this core group of people can hang around for the next three to fours years.”
Hopson has three years to go, he joked, and gave praise to the current president.
“This has been the most open year, so far,” Hopson said. “Like he said, we have a core group that works together … I hate to see him go. People don’t understand the work it takes here; we’re all volunteers, we don’t get paid. This is a year-round experience. We’ll have a couple of months off after all-stars but then we’re back at it.”
The UCLL experienced a high-octane time during the regular season with almost 340 kids taking to the fields.
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Here is a current look at opening round games for all-star teams in Unicoi County.
The 11- and 12-year-old boys will host their tournament beginning Saturday, June 27, at the Little League field in Erwin. The Unicoi County all-stars are scheduled to open play at 11 a.m.
The 9- and 10-year old boys begin play on Tuesday, June 30, at the Johnson City National Field against Bristol with game time set for 8 p.m.
The 7- and 8-year old team will also be on the road with their tournament scheduled at Johnson City Major Field. The squad will begin play on Sunday, July 5, at 4 p.m.
The 11- and 12-year-old girls will begin their trip through all-star season on Saturday, July 4, at 6 p.m. against Carter County. Their tournament will be held at Daniel Boone High School.
According to the brackets provided to The Erwin Record, the 10- and 11-year old softball team automatically qualified for a potential state bid with the only other team from the district dropping out of the tournament.
The 9- and 10-year old team, along with the 7- and 8-year old squad, will compete in tournaments at Carter County. The 9- and 10-year-olds will begin on June 29 against Bristol at 6:45 p.m.
The younger Lady Blue Devils square off against Carter County on June 27 at 1 p.m.
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Be sure to stay up to date with The Erwin Record in the coming weeks for photos and information on all-stars from the area.
Schedule updates will be provided in each print edition and online at The Erwin Record Sports Facebook page.