An Arlington Little League team has made the state tournament, becoming one of few teams to have done so in Arlington history.
This past Fourth of July weekend, the Arlington Little League National 5070 All-Stars won the District 4 championship tournament, besting teams from across the region including Vienna and McLean. In Sunday’s championship game, the team of 14 players, ages 12 and 13 years old, defeated the Alexandria Little League All-Star team. They won by a score of 10 to 5.
The next step is the Virginia state tournament, to be held in Henrico just outside of Richmond, with their first game scheduled for this Friday. The coaches believe this is only the third team in Arlington Little League history to advance to states.
Both players and coaches told ARLnow that what made this team special was everyone’s dedication and buy-in.
“All 14 [players] bought into the team aspect of what’s best for the team as opposed to what’s best for them as an individual,” Manager Mark Nersasian told ARLnow. “We got contributions from top to bottom [of the roster].”
Thirteen-year-old Nate Moseley, who pitches and plays first base for the team and attends Dorothy Hamm Middle School, said that Nersasian and the other coaches often reiterate this concept.
“[The coaches] always tells us that we need players who play for the team name on the front, not the [last name] on the back,” he said.
That task was even more complicated by the fact the team has only been together for a few weeks. This is an all-star team, picked from more than 100 players across nine Arlington Little League teams. The team was selected, in large part, by their teammates and fellow Arlington Little Leaguers, with players voting on who they think should make up the squad. Coaches also contributed to the selection of the roster.
As expected, the players proved themselves to be some of the best ball players in Arlington. Assistant coach Keith Stone says the blended roster can sometimes be a challenge when dividing up playing time, but that wasn’t the case for this group of middle-school-aged athletes.
“Most of them were the best players on their regular team. They got brought to this [team] and they may only get to bat one time or barely get to play in the field. They all bought into the collective good for the team,” Stone said. “For 12 and 13-year-olds, that’s not always the easiest thing to do.”
This Arlington Little League team isn’t in the same age group as those that are on ESPN every year. This team is a little bit older, mostly comprised of 13-year-olds, as opposed to 10, 11, and 12-year-olds. Therefore, the Arlington Little League team plays on fields that are larger, have longer base paths, and pitch further away.
Dylan Stone, a shortstop and pitcher, has been playing baseball in Arlington since he was four years old. He’s now 13 and attends Williamsburg Middle School. What he loves most about playing in Arlington Little League is being able to “play with friends and the competition.”
When asked what Major League Baseball star he’d compare himself to, he smiled and said former Washington National (and now Los Angeles Dodger) star Trea Turner.
“He also plays shortstop. And he’s fast,” Dylan said. “And I’m also pretty fast.”
If the team wins the state tournament, they’d move to regionals being held in North Carolina later this month. If they win that, they’d go to nationals in California.
Whatever happens this coming weekend and in the future, both Dylan and Moseley said they plan on continuing their baseball careers by trying out for Yorktown High School’s junior varsity team.
The lessons they’ve learned from being on this successful Little League team, one of the few from Arlington to advance this far, will carry over wherever they end up playing in the future.
“You have to work as a team,” Moseley said. “It’s not just one person. You can go five [hits in] five [at-bats] and if everyone else isn’t doing their job, you can still lose.”
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