ANDERSON — Seth Kelley woke up Wednesday morning with a smile on his face.
The Riverfield All-Stars completed an impressive comeback Tuesday at the Little League Softball state tournament by roaring through South Bend Southeast and host Lebanon to claim the championship.
In the immediate aftermath, Kelley told his assistant coaches — Brock Hubble and Brad Duncan — that the pressure was off.
That feeling made it through the night and into the following morning. But it didn’t last long thereafter.
“I quickly realized after a couple hours at work, this (Little League Central Region) is a big stage,” Kelley said, “and I started to feel the pressure again a little bit.”
Kelley and his players won’t have quite as long as previously expected to let that pressure build.
One of the 10 teams slated to play in the Central Region championship in Indianapolis will not make the trip, and the schedule was adjusted Wednesday. Riverfield now opens play against Wisconsin on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at the Ruben F. Glick Little League Central Region Headquarters.
The game previously had been scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
Riverfield and Wisconsin will compete in the five-team Pool A alongside champions from Illinois, Michigan and Missouri. The teams with the two best records after a four-game round robin will advance to the semifinals on July 25.
Pool B consists of Ohio, Iowa, Nebraska and Kentucky and will send the other two representatives to the semifinals.
The winner of the final four-team single elimination tournament will represent the Central Region at the Little League Softball World Series in Portland, Ore.
Kelley experienced Riverfield’s run to the World Series a year ago as a parent, and he’s now coming to grips with the fact he could return to that stage this year as a coach.
He’s happy and fortunate to have a healthy roster, and the team is ready to defend its regional crown.
“This is why we do it,” Kelley said of playing and coaching the game. “(The World Series) is a pretty grand stage for a 12-year-old. It doesn’t get any bigger than that.”