Breckenridge Juniors to begin Section 2 Tournament tonight
Following a historical achievement that saw the Breckenridge Junior League All-Stars win the first District 5 championship in Breckenridge Little League history last Friday, the team will continue their journey by playing in the Section 2 tournament at Abilene Northern.
The Junior All-Stars advanced to the Section 2 tournament with a 9-4 win over the Clyde All-Stars.
“Its really tough to beat anybody three times, especially a pretty good little team like Clyde, said Breckenridge coach Pat Escalon. “It was a big deal having to beat them a third time. It’s hard to get mentally up for it, especially after beating them twice in the same tournament and you have played basically the same kids throughout the season and won too. It really shows the kid’s mental toughness of having to get better and show up and get the job done.
Breckenridge has had a perfect record throughout the All-Star games and has high hopes moving forward to the Section 2 Tournament, which will be held today through Monday, July 11.
“This is an exciting part of the summer because this is where all your hard work pays off and now you’re reaping the benefits of your hard work,” Escalon said. Breckenridge will face North Arlington at 6 p.m. today, July 7.
“They seem to be the most successful team coming in,” Escalon said of North Arlington. “Their record indicates that. They have had a lot of games that they have won have been by the 10-run rule. They prove to be pretty strong.” Escalon said the Breckenridge team should be ready for a strong team like North Arlington.
“It’s just another team as far as we are concerned,” Escalon said. “We have had the advantage of going and playing in tournament ball all spring. This team compiled a pretty nice record and got bumped up to the highest division USSA baseball which is the majors divisions.” “We faced the No. 1 team in the nation and played them to a 7-2 game,” he said. “There is no competition level that this team is afraid of. I think going and playing against that type of competition early on in the spring and being successful will help us on this run that we are on, “The kid’s confidence is high and there isn’t a team out there that they don’t think they can beat,” Escalon added. “That’s something that I brought with me when I came back to Breckenridge a few years ago, knowing that we had to get outside our comfort zone and go and play some tougher competition.”
He said that he hopes the experience gained from the spring tournaments against top level teams will pay off and that the competition will only get tougher moving forward. “We have played all year against kids that would be going to a 5A or 6A type school,” he said. “There wasn’t any team that was smaller than us. “We will be the smallest team from here on out.
The next step is the state tournament at Abilene Wylie,” he added. “It wouldn’t surprise me to see someone from the El Paso, Houston, San Antonio and possibly a team from east Texas like a Marshall Longview. It will be basically like a four-team state tournament. One of the many things that makes this All-Star team stand out is the team’s work ethic and competitive drive.
“The kid’s work ethic is off the charts,” Escalon said. “We demand a lot out of them. They show up and that’s what it takes to build a championship team is the work ethic and being coachable. They are all not the same, so you have to coach them a little different.” Work ethic is probably the main attribute to this team. That’s one thing that we have worked on since I moved back and basically helped Brad (Woodward) take over this team,” he said.
“Brad does a lot of the managing and I do more of the technical and coaching part of it. We have worked on the mental toughness of this team. We had a bunch of good athletes, we just didn’t know how to win. It’s something you learn and not something you are born doing. They have really learned how to win, how to be successful and how to get through those tough innings. They came from their work ethic and us basically demanding success."
"They bought in and everything clicked.” Escalon said the approach of finding each player’s strong points and abilities also has helped with the success. “The key is we don’t try to blanket coach them. We take every individual and find their strengths and try to play to their strengths and abilities. It’s a team effort,” he said. “We don’t have just one kid that is carrying us. We are deep in pitching. Everybody puts the ball in play and have a couple of kids that can hit the long ball. For the most part, all 11 kids have pitched on the mound this year. We have four or five that are our main guys, but on any given situation, we may ask 1 through 11 to get up on the mound and throw strikes for us and they are capable. That’s a testament to their work ethic. It’s hard to know that you aren’t going to get to pitch a lot and still work on your pitching because you never know when you are going to be called and need to throw strikes.”