By Rick Teverbaugh
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. — The Riverfield All-Stars are primed and ready to take on the Midwest at the Little League Central Region in Indianapolis this weekend.
One of the coaches on the team is better known for his basketball exploits than the ones he had on the diamond.
Brad Duncan played for Madison Heights and coach Phil Buck in 1981 when the Pirates were ranked No. 1 in the state. He went on to play at Illinois State and he has coached at both Highland and Anderson.
“I always loved baseball,” said Duncan after Riverfield’s Thursday practice. “I would play baseball in the spring and then the summer until it was time to pick up a basketball and then I’d play that.”
His daughter Rachel provides him a connection to the team. She has been playing softball in the back yard since she was about 4 years old and been playing organized ball since she was 5. But her father doesn’t see a lot of difference between the two diamond sports.
“The pitching is different,” said Duncan. “I don’t know a lot about the pitching. My daughter has people who have helped her with pitching. I help with the hitting and there’s not a lot of difference there between softball and baseball. I usually pitch batting practice to the team.”
He is responsible for another vital part of making Riverfield such a good team.
“I like to teach the strategy and make sure the girls know the game,” he said. “I want them to learn the thought process of the game. I always liked the teaching aspect of coaching. Athleticism is great, but it can only take you so far. You need to have the know how of the sport.”
This year’s team has had some regularly changing goals.
“When we started, the coaches set as a goal to win the state,” said Duncan. “Now we’ve done that and our new goal is to win the Central Region.”
There is an aspect of this team that makes Duncan think they can do just that. The aspect is competitiveness.
“I don’t think being competitive is a bad thing,” said Duncan. “As kids get older they get that way. There’s only four girls on this team that were on last year’s team (that went to the World Series. But I think they want to be able to do that same thing. Most of these girls have been playing together for seven or eight years. They have developed friendships.”
The team is certainly going into Saturday’s opening game on a hot streak. After losing the opening game at the state, they knew they not only had to win all of their games the rest of that tournament, but also they had to really hold their foes down in scoring to have the best chance at winning the tie-breaker.
“The last five games, I think we gave up six runs,” said Duncan. “When we get pitching like that and make the plays defensively, we’re going to be all right. We’re going to Indy with ther idea that we’re going to win the tournament.”