By Les Dixon / Sports Editor
INDIANAPOLIS — The Knox County 11-12-year-old All-Stars have settled in Indianapolis and find themselves a day away before they participate in their first game of the Great Lakes Regional Tournament against Indiana’s Hagerstown All-Stars.
Since winning the Kentucky state championship last week, the past few days have been a rollercoaster for coach Scott Payne and his players.
“It has been really nice,” he said. “I don’t think it has really set in yet for us coaches or the players. I think once these kids have time to sit back and really realize what they have accomplished so far, they are going to be surprised.
“If you really think about it, there are only five teams remaining that are standing in our way to get to the Little League World Series,” he added. “When you think about it that way, I believe everyone realizes just how close we are.”
Along with the state-wide success comes the media attention, and Payne and his players have received a lot of that since defeating North Oldham, 5-3, in the state title game this past Friday.
“It’s something we have to get accustomed to,” Payne admitted. “Everything this group receives, they deserve it. They have really worked hard to get to this point, and they know they still have a lot of work ahead of them.”
The media attention will grow even more once the first pitch is thrown at Ferguson and Stokley Fields Saturday.
Knox County’s first game against Hagerstown will be airing live on ESPN3 at 7 p.m. Their game against Illinois’ Jackie Robinson West will be aired live at 1 p.m. on ESPN3 on Sunday along with their contest against Michigan’s Grosse Point Woods-Shores Monday at 11 a.m.
ESPN3 is an online streaming service provided by ESPN Inc. that delivers both live streams and replays of global sports events to sports fans in U.S., Australia, Brazil, Chile, Middle East, New Zealand, and Europe (except Italy).
If Knox County advances to semifinal action, its respective game, according to what seed they receive, will air live at either 2 p.m. on ESPN or 7 p.m. on ESPN2.
And if Payne’s squad advances to the Great Lakes Regional title game on Saturday, Aug. 10, the game will be televised live on ESPN at 1 p.m.
“We really want to keep things low key,” Payne said. “The media attention is nice, but we want to try to keep things low key as much as possible. We don’t want our kids to have to worry about being on television and being nervous. We just want them to take it as going another step toward our ultimate goal, which is to reach the Little League World Series. That’s the ultimate experience.”