Missing out on the state tournament last year was not something that sat well with Laramie 9-10 All-Star manager Brett Moniz.

With state being in Laramie this year, rest assured the goal is to be playing in the hometown on July 26.

Moniz returns five players from last year’s team and has an older squad with 10 10-year olds and only three 9-year olds this year.

He admits they’re more focused going in this year.

“We thought we were set last year and really had a chance of going and winning that thing. We learned quickly that maybe our preparation wasn’t there… this year we’re focusing more on mental preparedness.”

The Laramie 9-10 All-Stars begin play today (Monday) at the District Tournament in Torrington.

Moniz points to them practice with more pace.

“We’ve tried to keep practice up-tempo. Our drills that were using right now are up-tempo drills, making them quick catch, quick throw to where they’ve got to pay attention.”

The returning players are 10-year olds Andrew Ballard, Sam Hoyt, Grant Vigen, Trace Looney and Kaige Schriner. They are joined by Damian Gomez, Fisher Frude, Max Alexander, Erik Jacobsen and Diego Herrera as 10’s. The three 9-year olds are Landon Lotzer, Carson Moniz and TR Richardson.

Moniz feels their offense is really strong.

“We’ve got some big hitters. We’ve got some contact hitters. We’ve got speed to put on the bases, so offensively I think we’re better.”

As for defense, Moniz says, “I don’t think we have a weakness. We’re really solid all the way around the field this time. I think we have a stronger outfield, a quicker outfield.”

Moniz also knows that at this level pitching is key. He likes their depth.

“Out of a 13-kid team, I’ve mentioned we’ve got 10 pitchers, if I had to I’ve got 13. All 13 of these kids have pitched in league... if we have to, we’ve got everybody that can throw the ball.”

With the tournament in Torrington, Moniz feels the heat will be a factor. He said that keeping kids fresh is going to be a big key, as well.

Laramie starts round robin play against Torrington tonight at 7 p.m. They will face Gillette National Tuesday at 1 p.m. and Gillette American Wednesday at 4 p.m.

After those games, the four teams are seeded into a bracket. The top two advance to state in Laramie.

Moniz knows it all comes down to one game Thursday.

“Really the only game that counts to get us to state is Thursday, but we want these kids to go out and play aggressive. We’re going to play to win every game.”

Moniz also says, “The approach is going to be the chess-game of pitching, and making sure that when we go into Thursday, the most important game to get us to state, is that we’ve got our best three or four pitchers available. We’ll work through the first three days to make sure we do that, and our depth will help us get there with that.”

Nate Hoyt and Victor Gomez are the assistant coaches for the Laramie 9-10 All-Stars in 2017.

More From KOWB 1290