LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - It is All-Star season once again and the Lufkin All-Stars are hard at work preparing for their district tournament and another run to the Little League World Series.
Several rule changes have gone into effect that will change the look and feel of the run this time.
“They have gone to a September 1st cutoff,” Lufkin manager Bud Maddux said. “That has changed everything because you will not have 13 year-olds at the Little League World Series.”
If the new age-rule was in place back in 2017, only four of the Lufkin players on the U.S. Championship that year would have played. The rest would have been put in the Junior division.
“It is not like we had a one up on everyone," Maddux said. "We all played under that rule. No one had an advantage. it was a level playing field. I like the change. It is going back to the old way it used to be.”
Officials also like the change.
“We have seen that change over the past 40 years that the 13 year-old group has those growth spurts” Assistant Lufkin Parks and Recreation Director Matt Hubert said. “It just seems like kids are bigger, faster, stronger when they are starting to mature.”
The players on the field are looking at it as a level playing field.
“Us younger kids can’t compete with them,” 12 year-old All-Star Jack Bowers said. “Some of us may be superstars compared to each other but when we compete against the older kids we are not as good as them.”
The 2017 team earned the nickname “Thundering 13” because of all the power hitters up and down the lineup that could send the ball beyond the fence. It appears those days are gone.
“It is going to put a lot more strategy in the game,” Maddux said. “You are not sitting back waiting for the three-run home run. We have to fabricate some plays and get some bunts down. I don’t know if we ever bunted the ball in 2017.”
Maddux added that all the teams will have that philosophy so the defense will need to change.
“We will have to work on the infield defense and make sure we can defend against those plays and our bunt defense,” Maddux said.
Here is the complete All-Star lineup for the 12-year old Majors division.
Manager: Bud Maddox
Nickolas Hodges , Kolt Larsen, Aidan Bonacci, Jack Bowers, Joshua Cortines, Francisco Serrano Jr, Clayton McGuire, Sean Morado, Ryan Rasmussen, Grant Stafford, Austin Brown, Michael Sullivan Brayden Wilson
The All-Stars will get their District Tournament started off on June 15 at 7 pm against Rose City East. The game will take place at Morris Frank Park.