Punxsy heads to states with high hopes

The 15- and 16-year old VFW Teener League All-Star state tournament kicks off this weekend in Huntingdon, and Punxsy will be well represented as it was at the 13- and 14-year old state tournament in Punxsy last weekend.

According to Punxsy manager Mike Klingensmith, his players are ready for the tournament, though they don't seem over-confident, either.

"They seem like they want it," he said. "I told them that they really have to be hungry. I also told them after practice the other day that I don't want them uptight. They're 15- and 16-year old kids. I want them to have some fun, but they're still good ball players, and I know they what they can do."

Many of these same players have played in the same state tournament before, except at the 13- and 14-year old level, as Punxsy missed the 15- and 16-year old tournament last year.

"The majority of these guys have been to states," Klingensmith said. "They definitely have some experience, and that does make a difference. Hopefully these guys know what to expect, or at least what they should expect."

Experience isn't the only advantage Punxsy has going into the weekend tournament, though. Klingensmith is also confident in his pitching staff.

A deep pitching staff is important in a tournament with a full-weekend format, because each pitcher is limited to a certain number of innings over the weekend and can't pitch a complete game every game.

"Without a doubt, our pitching staff is an advantage," Klingensmith said. "I feel good about using any and all of those guys. Anyone can have a bad day, but overall, I'm confident in each one of them."

Punxsy also knows from experience that the talent at the state tournament will be a notch higher than the regular season play and that every player has to bring their best to the table.

"I've got a plan, and hopefully it's a good plan," Klingensmith said, "but you just don't know until you see what you're up against."

Punxsy opens the tournament at 12:30 p.m. Friday against Senior Teener West in Huntingdon.

The first game of the tournament precedes Punxsy's game at 9:30 a.m. where Bald Eagle faces off against Altoona.

Following Punxsy's game, the opening round will conclude with two games: Lebanon Valley against Schuylkill North at 3 p.m. and tournament-host Huntingdon against Holidaysburg at 5:30 p.m.

Whether Punxsy wins or loses, it will play Saturday at 9:30 a.m. Klingensmith hopes his boys will will be playing in the winners' bracket and will only have to play one game each day.

If that is the case, it will mean that they have kept winning, as no two rounds of winners' bracket games are scheduled for the same day.

Klingensmith's players have been practicing hard all week in preparation for the tournament, and he is confident that they will give it their all.

"We went to these tournaments as 13- and 14-year olds, and the teams were tough," he said. "We're expecting that again this year, because it will probably be a lot of the same players we're playing against. All we can hope for is to go down there and play some good, fundamental baseball and see what happens."