Bowling Green East Little League prepares for Great Lakes Regional Tournament
BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – One week ago, the Bowling Green East Little League 12-year-old All-Stars claimed the Kentucky state title, qualifying for the regional tournament next week in Indianapolis, Ind.
While they’ve spent the past week getting ready for the tournament, they’ve been preparing for this opportunity since they were 8-year-olds.
“This is what we work for,” said Grayson Newman, a utility player and pitcher on the team. “This is our goal.”
This group of players has always dreamed of playing in the Little League World Series.
“It’s really amazing,” said third baseman Matthew Escalera. “I think it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
But before the team can move on to Williamsport, Pa., they have to win the Great Lakes Regional Tournament.
“I just think that we’ll secure it and just take it home,” said pitcher Whitt Glosick.
Clearly the players aren’t lacking any belief in their abilities as individuals, and as a team.
“They’ve all got a lot of confidence,” said manager Rick Kelley. “Not only confidence in themselves, but confidence in their teammates. I think those two things combined make for a good team.”
They play for each other, but they also play for a teammate who’s no longer with them – Mason Goodnight, who suddenly passed away in April 2017.
“Sadly the death of Mason, it’s really brought us together,” Glosick said. “We’ve been together since it happened, and it’s only brought us tighter.”
Mason’s father Jef, who’s still a coach for the team, said it’s been amazing to see this group of kids rally together around their former friend and teammate.
“It speaks volumes about these kids and who they are,” added Goodnight.
In addition to playing for Mason, the players are also tackling the responsibility of representing the state of Kentucky, and the city of Bowling Green, on a national stage.
BG East is just one of 53 little league teams in the country still playing.
“They’ve just gotta really be proud of that and savor the moment,” said Kelley. “Try to put everything else out of their mind which is hard to do.”
It’s been business as usual during practice, though.
The players are focused on the task at hand, not getting too far ahead of themselves or even thinking about overlooking their next opponent.
“We have one more step,” Newman said. “But one game at a time.”
Clearly a mindset that their manager has instilled in every player.
“We’re not looking that far ahead,” Kelley said. “We gotta take care of business in Indianapolis. The competition is always really tough up there. One game at a time.”
It might be a “one game at a time” mantra for this bunch, but the reality is that they’re just a couple of games away of earning their shot at playing for a national championship.
“It would be amazing,” said Escalera. “That’s just, like, really, really cool.”
BG East plays their first game of the Great Lakes Regional Tournament on Monday, Aug. 5, at 9 a.m. against the winner of Indiana versus Ohio.