"We're going to have fun and treat it

By Eric Clutter Record-Courier staff writer Published:

"We're going to have fun and treat it like any other game

this year," said Trocchio. "Take it one game at a time."

Trocchio coaches Rootstown Jet Rubber, and Saturday at 9 a.m.

his kids will take on Lorain Carlisle Amvets Post No. 32 in an

Alliance Hot Stove H League state semifinal showdown at Butler-Rodman

Park.

Rootstown comes into the game with a 21-1 mark, a record that

has surprised Trocchio as much as anybody.

"We were hoping to be here," he said, using coach-like

optimism, "but in no way, shape or form did we think we'd

be here at this point."

Rootstown advanced to this stage because of hard work, pitching

and defense.

Held to only four runs in last week's 4-3 regional title victory

over Kenmore, Rootstown pitcher D.J. Hickle escaped from a bases-loaded,

one-out pickle in the seventh inning to get Rootstown to the state

semifinals.

Hickle and Justin Buso have been stellar on the mound for Trocchio.

"It's been mostly pitching and defense," said the

coach. "If we hit well, that's like icing on the cake."

The two pitchers, along with Josh Mueller, have been the club's

best hitters.

"If we play well, we think we have a chance to win,"

said Trocchio.

In another H league semifinal featuring a local team, Windham

Jim's Fuel & Deli will match its 24-0 record with that of Alliance

Knights of Columbus (23-0) in a game scheduled to begin at 11:30

a.m.

Windham has all the tangible components necessary to win _

the pitching of Cody Apthorpe and Kyle Cooper, the hitting of

D.J. McCune, Sean Kellar, Dave VanSteenberg and Brad Troyer, to

name a few, and defense.

It is called experience.

Almost a year ago to the day, Windham fell 8-6 in a state semifinal

game. It was a game in which a young Windham squad did not score

until the fifth inning. By that time it was too little too late.

Coach Dave Apthorpe sensed the nervousness and the jitters

present that afternoon. This time, with a more relaxed and seasoned

squad, he is optimistic.

"Just getting there (in 2000) was a big achievement,"

he said. "This year, we're going down there with a different

mentality, no doubt about it. We're going down with the attitude

that we can play with anyone in the state. We'll be more aggressive.

"We have so many strengths that we can take advantage

of our opponents' weaknesses."

That aggressiveness is a by-product of the new mindset and

a larger field.

Normally playing on a field where the fences stop at 170 feet,

Windham will find plenty more real estate at Butler-Rodman Park,

where the fences extend to 220 feet.

"We'll try to hit and run and use our team speed,"

said Apthorpe.

A roomier outfield means more action for the outfielders, and

Dave Apthorpe says the experience his outfielders have gained

over the last 12 months has been a big difference.

"The outfield play is much better, and we have kids who

can make plays as 10-year-olds," said the coach.

McCune, who bats cleanup and mans first base, has been on fire

in the tournament. That just makes everybody else in this strong

lineup that much better.

"They all can hit the ball. It is a very versatile, talented

team," praised Dave Apthorpe.

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E-mail: eclutter@recordpub.net

Phone: (330) 678-5460

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