Stokes Quotes

Champions aren't made in the gyms.  Champions are made from something they have deep inside them - a desire, a dream, a vision.




 Norris Continues Run Through Legion Tryout

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By Keith Barnes
Tuesday, July 8, 2008

West Hempfield shortstop Danny Norris has already had a season to remember.

Heading into Monday night's game against Latrobe, Norris was batting .519 with a .682 on-base percentage and an .859 slugging percentage. In addition, he has advanced to the third round of the American Legion West Regional All-Star tryouts, which will be held Saturday at Slippery Rock University.


"I'm just kind of doing this for the experience," Norris said. "I already go to Penn State, so I just want to do this for the experience."


American Legion All-Star tryouts consist of drills and a simulated game. After a brief warm-up, all players begin the day with a timed 60-yard dash. Following the sprints, they take the field for a pre-game practice and are judged on their fielding ability and situational arm strength.

When the preliminaries conclude, players begin the simulated game. Each pitcher faces seven batters. If a hitter makes an out, he still takes first base so scouts can see how the pitcher holds runners and to test the catchers' arms on throws to second.


Everyone has the chance to bat once, as the 28 batters on each side step into the batter's box according to pre-assigned numbers. Outfielders are first, followed by shortstops, third basemen, second basemen, first basemen, catchers and pitchers.


Players also take the field according to the numbers on their backs, with the lower numbers on each team at every position except pitcher given the chance to play defensively in both the first and fourth innings.

"(Norris) can throw the ball very well off the run and he calls all my coverage's for me," West Hempfield coach Bob Stokes said. "He's a joy to coach because his retention of all I teach is incredible. He remembers things I taught him three years ago and why we do things in that situation."

If Norris is one of the players chosen by college coaches and scouts on Saturday, he will move into the East-West All-Star Game on July 15-16 at Commerce Bank Park in Harrisburg.

Though he wasn't picked in the major-league draft and isn't considered to be a pro prospect, he does have aspirations of playing at the Division I level. Norris will attempt to make Penn State's spring club baseball team, which is a feeder for the Nittany Lions' varsity program.

"It's pretty competitive up there," Norris said. "I know a couple of members of the club baseball team that were on the varsity ... and you get to see a lot of the good players who make it to the varsity and what it would take."

Norris played on the club team during the fall semester but could not make the cut in the spring. At West Hempfield, he has played shortstop for the second consecutive year even though he is regularly a second baseman. But, the experience of playing on the opposite side of the infield and making longer throws across the diamond should help when he again tries out at Penn State.

"When he's at shortstop, he'll actually tell the pitcher how many times to check the runner at second, and it's stupid things like that that I can do with him because he's so advanced beyond his years," Stokes said. "He's probably the best overall player I've ever coached with all the extras of the game."

Still, to make it at the collegiate level with a Big 10 team, Norris will have to become a five-tool player. He has already shown power - he hit a home run to left field at Lint Field this season that traveled an estimated 460 feet - has a solid arm and possesses good speed. But like all players his age, he has room to improve.

"I would say he would need to do a better job spraying the ball to right field, hitting the ball the other way a little bit better," Stokes said. "He just has to become more consistent at everything. He's very good at this level, but the next level you have to be a little better."

Keith Barnes can be reached at or 724-853-2109.