This Friday, the Russell County 7U baseball all-stars will begin pool play in the 2022 West Kentucky Cal Ripken State Tournament at Highview Park in Louisville.
Russell County will face off against St. Matthews at 4:30 p.m. and Beechmont at 7:30 p.m. Central time.
Head coach Mathew Luttrell said his team is “really excited” about the opportunity to go to state.
“We’ve done fantastic so far this summer,” Luttrell said. “The boys are fired up and ready to go.”
Russell County will continue play on Saturday, but the time of its first game will depend on how the all-stars do in pool play. This portion of the 16-team tournament is single elimination and all games will be wrapped up by Sunday, weather permitting.
Regardless of how far the team advances, Luttrell said his all-stars would have the opportunity to participate in the Ohio Valley Region tournament the following weekend if they chose to do so.
Teams from Wisconsin, West Virginia, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Kentucky, and Indiana will travel to the Fern Creek community of Louisville for the region tournament.
Luttrell said one big draw for getting a 7U all-star team together was how close the region tournament was this season.
“We said, ‘Let’s try the state tournament out, see how they do,’” Luttrell said. “Our players aren’t used to travel ball yet, so this will be a good experience. Experiencing something like this, it’s going to change their mindset about sports, period.”
So far this summer, the team has been on a tear. Because there aren’t many 7U all-star teams in this area, Luttrell said Russell County has played in multiple 8U tournaments and have only faced off against 8U all-star teams thus far.
Even with going up against players older than them, the 7U all-stars have only lost once: to the Russell County 8U team in the championship game of a tournament in Wayne County.
Luttrell said that the biggest trait that makes his team “so phenomenal” is the players’ fearlessness.
“They have been much smaller than their opponents so far, but every kid I have is one of the best hitters in the league,” he said. “That ability to hit the ball well at this age, it’s a game changer … Every player can also move the ball extremely well in the field. They still need some work because they are still young, but their level of skill is really, really impressive.”
That lack of intimidation will come into play for this tournament because it will be machine pitch, rather than the coach pitch the players are used to.
The all-stars were able to practice off a machine this week. Even though there will be an adjustment, Luttrell said he isn’t too worried about his players being able to make the change.
“Our kids are hitters, so it doesn’t scare me as bad,” Luttrell said. “We were able to get that one practice in, so we’re going to just head up there and hope for the best.”
The 7U all-star roster includes:
• Henley Luttrell
• Finnly Cooper
• Cameron Seals
• Ben Hadley
• Hank Coffey
• Brennen Swango
• Jaxson Morgan
• Hughston Bennett
• Brady Walters
• Zander Morgan
The team is coached by Luttrell, Daniel Hadley, Kennedy Coffey, Perry Walters, and Bryan Cooper.