Coach looks to put ‘team’ in All Stars

awoolen@macon.comJune 25, 2014 

Warner Robins American Little League 11-12 year old All Star East manager Jess Shipley instructs pitcher Isaia Harris during a practice before the District 5 tournament, which starts Friday.

ANGELA WOOLEN — awoolen@macon.com

WARNER ROBINS -- In the sweltering Georgia heat, practicing for hours a day might be daunting for some.

It’s not for the players on the all-star teams at Warner Robins American Little League.

Jess Shipley, who is the manager for the 11-12 year old All Star East team, was holding his seventh practice in as many days.

Evaluation day was June 19 for Shipley’s team. That practice was to determine who made the starting lineup and who might earn a spot in the pitching rotation.

“I’m keeping notes on all the players,” he said.

During the two and a half hour practice, Shipley mostly sat on a bucket at third base. Occasionally giving suggestions to his players, he furiously wrote on his clipboard after each play.

“I saw what I needed to see,” said the first time 11-12 manager of a WRALL All Star team.

Shipley was encouraged by his players’ hitting and base-running but his main concern was making sure the 13 boys started acting like a team and not just all-stars.

To help with that, Shipley holds non-baseball events and they have lunch together.

He realizes that when the District 5 tournament starts Friday, his team will be the underdog to Mark Knight’s West team.

“We are playing with a chip on our shoulder,” Shipley said.

He hopes that will be to his advantage.

J.C. Hill will manage the WRALL East 11-12 year old All Star softball team.

He managed the 9-10 year old softball team that fell to Western in the district championship last year.

This year, he has six returning players from that squad and said it is eerie how the girls get along.

“They really function as one unit,” Hill said.

He said both WRALL teams are pretty evenly matched and expects a very competitive game from the softball side of the tournament.

This week, the girls will practice once under the lights at WRALL to get ready for the 8:30 p.m. start Friday.

Hill admits to being excited to make it to this point where the district tournament is just days away.

“Now it’s just time,” he said.

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