ATLEE - When going by the scores, it looked to be a tough district tournament for the 9/10/11-year-old Powhatan All-Stars.
But even when they were down, they could be seen smiling after a teammate made a big play.
And even in their final inning of tourney play, they could be heard cheering on the player who was currently at-bat for them.
"They're a great group of kids and they worked hard and I enjoyed the experience, and I think they all enjoyed the experience, too," Powhatan head coach Kenneth Pestka II said. "They work well together."
The All-Stars took away multiple positives, even in a tournament in which they lost to what Pestka said was "definitely a rock-solid team" in Atlee on Sunday, 22-1, and to Huguenot, 14-1 in an elimination game on Monday.
The scores weren't what they wanted, but their performance this time - with the couple of runs that they scored - was an improvement over last year.
"I'd like to have scored more," Pestka said smiling, "but they did what they could do, and they worked hard, so I'm proud of them, for sure."
All the players played hard and worked hard, he said, and in their last inning on Monday, the players who were at-bat in that final frame went down swinging.
They even got some good hits on those swings, preventing the shutout against Huguenot in the fourth and final inning.
Third baseman Tyshawn Studivant drove in Maxwell Pestka, who was one of four batters that inning to reach base on a hit after Huguenot's pitchers had held Powhatan's players to just one hit through the first three frames.
Also getting hits in the fourth for Powhatan were catcher Lucas Stocks and starting pitcher Caleb Perez, the latter of whom batted two-for-two and defensively made a play at home plate to tag out an incoming Huguenot base runner off the short toss from Stocks in the first inning. Center fielder Nicholas DeKeyser ran down a flyball in the outfield to end the second inning.
"A lot of the kids played well," Pestka said. "They had some chances to do what they've been doing in practice, and a lot of them came through. And the kids who struggled...[they were] facing pitching that they probably haven't seen."
This group of Powhatan All-Stars was also young, too, with only three 11-year-olds on the 9/10/11 team. They were the youngest team by far to play in their tournament bracket, and the last team they faced, Huguenot, had 10 11-year-olds and 3 10-year-olds.
"We were definitely the underdogs in that sense experience-wise," Pestka said. "But the kids fought hard, and they have a lot to take away from it."
And most of them, being ages 9 and 10, will get to come back with the chance to represent Powhatan again next year in that same 9/10/11 division.
Pestka emphasized that people in the Powhatan community really need to encourage as many kids as they can to sign up for All-Stars.
"The other counties, they have a larger population, and so there's more kids in the pool, and they get more experience," Pestka said. "Just like we had a bunch of young kids playing up, those kids will have more experience next year, so the more kids we can get to start earlier, the more they'll have experience, the better they'll get, and they'll see other kids that are excelling as well, and so that interaction I think is something that will definitely be helpful."