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West Hempfield makes 1st trip to states

Paul Schofield
| Tuesday, July 26, 2011, 12:00 p.m.

West Hempfield American Legion baseball manager Bob Stokes is nervous.

The veteran coach doesn't know what to expect from his team when it plays Bristol at 12:30 p.m. today in the opening round of the Pennsylvania American Legion state tournament at Reading.

It's the first time the West Hempfield program has reached the state tournament.

"I'm really excited," Stokes said. "This is all new to me. I know nothing about the opponent, and that worries me. I figure if we continue to hit, we'll do well."

In five games at the Region 7 tournament in Bedford, West Hempfield scored 67 runs and pounded out 81 hits.

Infielder/pitcher Zach Zimmerman has been on a tear. He is hitting .486 with eight home runs and 41 RBI. During the past three weeks, Zimmerman has driven in 36 runs. He is 7-1 with a 3.42 ERA.

"He's really stepped up," Stokes said of Zimmerman. "I never expected the power we're getting."

Zimmerman isn't the only hot bat in the lineup.

Center fielder Tim Norris (.484) and catcher Anthony Fanelli (.455) are hitting better than .450. Brennan Rahl, Nathan Mori, Zack Martinelli, Greg Martin, Tyler Lilja and Braden Royer are also hitting well.

Rahl (7-1, 1.72 ERA) and Jared Hensler (7-0, 2.79 ERA) have been effective.

Stokes said playing in the Region 7 tournament helped prepare his team for the nine-inning contests that will be played in the state tournament.

"We have to try to play our best, and if we hit, we win," Stokes said. "We also need to continue to play good defense. We've only made 34 errors in 28 games, and 10 came in one game."

The other games scheduled are Red Land vs. Blackhawk, Boyertown vs. Plains and West Lawn vs. Millcreek.

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