Taney stays loose for semifinal

Posted: August 08, 2014

BRISTOL, Conn. - With a day off leading up to today's semifinal with Colonie (N.Y.), the members of the Taney Youth Baseball Association got a chance to just be kids again.

Taney had a day to rest yesterday at the A. Bartlett Giamatti Little League Leadership Training Center before its semifinal matchup with Colonie Lake at 11 a.m. today. The Little Leaguers had their usual baseball responsibilities, sprinkled between naps, X-Box and getting to know their new friends in the dorms.

"We will practice, we will get rest," Taney manager Alex Rice said. "We practiced before [Wednesday's] games, and I think that helped a lot to stay loose, to play ball and have fun."

Taney is one of eight teams remaining at the training center, three others from the Mid-Atlantic as well as the four semifinalists from the New England Regional. Many of the teams have been seen at the games intermingling, enjoying the shared experience together.

"It has been a lot of fun getting to know the other teams and getting to interact with them a lot," Taney's Jahli Hendricks said. "It's just a great experience."

Video-game tournaments seem to be a bonding force between the new friends. Taney's Mo'ne Davis says a day filled with competitive gaming has lead to new interactions with players from other states.

"It is so much better here now than it was last Thursday when the kids were just getting here and everyone was sizing each other up," Rice said. "They have met everyone and met really good friends."

While a big part of yesterday's plan was to rest, there was still a baseball game to prepare for. Colonie handed Taney its only loss in pool play and the Pennsylvania state champs know they will need to be sharp in order to avenge that loss.

"Some of us will go down to the cage and use the iPhone's slow-mo camera and we film each other [swinging] to see what we need to improve," Davis said. "We just try to help each other in different ways."

Rice said after the loss to Colonie a day off prior to that first meeting may have negatively impacted his team. But now that Taney has advanced to the knockout stage with a trip to the Little League World Series in Williamsport so close, nothing is going to skew its focus.

"All the teams here have been really good competition and for us to be in the semifinals means a lot," Hendricks said. "We've come a long way - 17 games before we got [to Bristol] - hopefully we make it."

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