ROCKINGHAM — Rockingham will be well represented during next week’s Pony League Bronco Piedmont Section tournament.
Rockingham will have two teams, one of 11-year-olds and another of 12-year-olds, battling with squads from Archdale, Garner, Southwest Randolph and West Raleigh.
The winner of the Rockingham 12 and the Archdale game will face West Raleigh at 5 p.m. Wednesday. The victor of the Rockingham 11 and Soutwest Randolph contest will take on Garner 7 p.m. Tuesday. The losers will not return to action until Wednesday.
“We’ve got a good group of kids,” said Mike Hudson, coach of Rockingham’s older team. “They have been practicing hard and we plan on trying our best.”
Hudson and his team will open the tournament against Archdale 5 p.m. Monday. Rockingham’s 11-year-old team will square off with Southwest Randolph around 7 p.m. Monday.
Joey Bostick, the coach of the other Rockingham squad, believes it will be good for the 11-year-olds to play in the tournament and gain needed “experience.” He admits the team may be behind the other teams because of its pitching.
“We don’t have the pitching of the 12-year-olds,” Bostick said. “Defensively, I think we can play with them. I think it’s good to give them some experience.”
Bostick said he believes he will have four pitchers during the tournament, while Hudson think his team will be able to go six deep. Bostick added the lack of pitching depth could be a problem if his team needs to fight through the losers’ bracket.
Pitchers are limited to 16 innings during a team’s first three games and, after 40 hours of rest, can return to the mound and throw another 16 innings. A pitcher also may not throw more than seven innings in a day.
“We have four good pitchers that are going to throw strikes but not overpower the other team,” Bostick said. “They will throw strikes and hope our defense holds up behind them. And I think they will. We’re a young, scrappy bunch.”
Both of the Rockingham teams competed in a tournament earlier this summer against West Raleigh. Bostick and Hudson agreed that West Raleigh would come into next week’s event as the favorite to win the section.
Hudson added he believes the dimensions at the Bronco field at Civitan Park could work for both of Rockingham’s teams’ advantage. At the previous tournament in High Point, the field was shorter than the 227 feet down the left-field line, 236 to center and 231 feet down the right-field line.
“I hope our field will work to our benefit,” Hudson said. “I have several kids that can hit the ball. We hit something like five home runs at the pre-tournament and I think we gave up something like eight. It was a 200-foot fence.”
Reach sports editor Shawn Stinson at 910-817-2671 or on Twitter @scgolfer.