In many cases, heading out of town for an All-Star state baseball tournament means venturing to a new, unfamiliar city.
But when Martinez-Evans Little League's American League squad leaves for the 11- and 12-year-old state tournament in Columbus, Ga., one of its members will provide the team with a whole bunch of local support.
Logan Stanley and his teammates advanced to the state level on July 10 with a 7-4 victory over host team Elberton in the District 6 championship. Earning the district title meant Stanley would get to play in the same city where his dad played Little League.
Logan's parents, Mike and Jenny Stanley, both grew up in Columbus. Mike Stanley's job brought him and his wife to Columbia County about 15 years ago.
Because it is their hometown, they said their son will have plenty of people rooting for him once his team arrives.
"It's just a neat experience that he gets to go play where we grew up," Mike Stanley said. "He'll have a lot of family and friends. He'll have as much support as the local teams do."
The local teams Martinez-Evans will face include one from the league Mike Stanley called home, Northern Little League. The tournament, however, will be held at Columbus' Southern Little League, beginning Saturday.
Logan Stanley said his family members have seen some of the Columbus teams play.
"They said they're pretty good," he said.
The Martinez-Evans squad is coached by Woodie Melton, Bryan Whitney and Steve Leathers.
Mike Stanley has helped coach his sons, Logan, 12, and Mason, 10, every year they've played up until this season, when work obligations forced him to take a year off. He said he never got the opportunity Logan has to play on an All-Star team.
"I wasn't that fortunate," Mike Stanley said. "It's been great for Logan. He's a heck of a ballplayer. I wish I could say he got it all from me. He's worked hard."
Like most of his teammates, Logan pitches when he's needed. Having a slew of pitchers allows coaches to spread out the workload.
Logan is playing outfield, a position where he had little experience prior to All-Stars. It's something his father believes will benefit him for his seventh-grade season with the Riverside Middle School baseball team.
"Anytime you can get that other perspective, it helps," Mike Stanley said.
The ultimate goal for Little Leaguers in this age group is to be on television playing baseball. That's because they have the chance to advance to the nationally televised Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., with teams nationwide and from a number of different countries.
Coincidentally, a team from Columbus' Northern Little League won the World Series in 2006.
To get there, Martinez-Evans would need to win the state tournament and the subsequent region tournament.
"It would be pretty cool to go there," Logan said, "so everyone in the world can just watch you on TV."
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