The 11-year-olds have impressed this postseason, winning six of their seven games on the way to District and Section championships, and they are now potentially just four wins from a NorCal State title.
“It’s just a good group of kids, and they’ve bought in,” head coach Aaron Zeller said.
The RELL players open the tournament on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. in Turlock, and should be up for challenge.
They are playing well in all aspects of the game right now, but are particularly deep on the mound, which could be a huge advantage at a tournament where teams could end up playing seven games in seven days.
“We’ve got a bunch of good little athletes, and really good pitching,” Zeller said. “Honestly, all 12 of our kids throw in the bullpen. At this point, I don’t see this team running out of pitching.”
And it’s quality pitching.
“Everybody that we’ve put on the mound so far has gone out there and done their job and attacked the strike zone,” the head coach added.
The coaches have a good problem on their hands ahead of Saturday’s opener, with three legitimate aces to choose from.
Riley Schneider, Brayden Bermers and Kyle Giacone have all been outstanding this summer and Zeller says they are still undecided who they will start.
Shortstop Kade Pinochi is another player who has excelled this summer, and gives the coaches another strong option on the mound, although they are reluctant to move him from the shortstop position because he has been so good there.
Catcher Scotty Brogan also has played a huge role in the team’s success.
“He’s our anchor,” Zeller said of Brogan. “He’s a bulldog behind the plate. He’s a hard worker, and he’s probably one of our most consistent hitters too.”
Other players too have had an impact, including Bryson Burns, Max Collins, Emmett Davison and Jackson Sharp.
“Every single player on our team in some way has impacted a game positively,” Zeller said.
Sidney Mefford and Jacob Vasquez also have played well, as has Wyatt Zeller, who rounds out a deep and talented 12-player roster.
“They’re just great kids,” the head coach said. “They all try hard and they really truly are giving us 100 percent, and you can’t ask for more than that.”
At the plate, the team has improved as the postseason has gone on, learning what pitches to take advantage of.
“We’ve had a lot of quality at-bats now they’re seeing the pitches and understanding,” Aaron Zeller said.
As for the better competition they will face against the top young teams from all across the northern half of the state, the RELL All-Stars won’t be intimidated.
“I always tell the boys, each level we play the competition is going to be harder,” the head coach said. “But if you stay within yourself and do your job, we’re not going to win them all, but we’re going to be in every game.
“For 11-year-olds, we have a team that’s close to playing a complete game.”