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.




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By Jimmy Johnson
Friday, July 8, 2005

West Hempfield coach Bob Stokes entered the season with four 16-year-olds on his District 31 American Legion baseball team. The inexperience should have called for a rebuilding year. Stokes would tell you to think again. "This is probably the best team I've ever had," Stokes said.

Don't just take his word for it. Have a look at the standings. West Hempfield (15-6) is at the top of its division.
West Hempfield claimed the division title and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs with a 16-4 victory against visiting Murrysville (8-11) on Thursday at Lint Field in Hempfield.

West Hempfield collected 17 hits, batting around in the first and fourth innings. Two of Stokes' 16-year-olds led the way. Third baseman Bryan Morrison reached base four times on three singles and a fielder's choice. He drove in and scored four runs in the game. "He plays every position and does everything his coach asks of him," Stokes said of Morrison. "He's the ultimate team player."

Second baseman Dan Norris was the other youthful standout for Stokes. After getting hit by a pitch in his first two at-bats, Norris singled and scored in the fourth and hit an RBI double in the fifth. Norris was also loud in the field. "Let's go K-Mac," he shouted, cheering on West Hempfield's starting pitcher Kyle McCullough. Norris never quieted. Neither did the rest of his team. "It keeps the energy up," Norris said of the constant chatter. "(We say) whatever comes to mind out there." Popular movie and television quotes flew around the infield throughout the entire game. Smiles and laughs always followed. "We have a great time," Morrison said. "We're a tight-knit team." And its not too hard to have a great time when you're winning -- especially when you weren't expected to win. "We weren't looked upon as a competitor at the beginning of the season," Stokes said. West Hempfield is a competitor now and it was clear Thursday, defeating a team that Stokes said always gave him trouble.

Murrysville looked to continue that trend jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first with back-to-back home runs by Andy Parnell and Jon Bright. West Hempfield scored five runs in the bottom half of the first, but Murrysville cut the lead to 5-4 in the middle of the third. Murrysville threatened again in the fourth, but stranded two baserunners as West Hempfield relief pitcher Matt Roach struck out Matt Hill to end the inning. He then retired nine of the final 12 batters to keep the Murrysville offense under control. "I'm just excited for the young players today that they come through," Stokes said.

His young players will open the playoffs Saturday at Lint Field. West Hempfield will meet fourth-seeded Derry (12-9).