Dallas Tigers will rely on defense in series

Karl Schneider
Dallas Tigers

The Dallas Tigers will enter the Connie Mack World Series as one of two 17-and-under teams after winning the American Qualifier by knocking off the Connecticut Bombers — who are also heading to the series — twice in the tourney’s finals on July 9.

"There really weren’t any easy games," Tigers coach Kyle Woods said of the American Qualifier. "After pool play, we lost our first game and went straight to the loser’s bracket, and we won, I think, six games in a row to win. The competition was great."

Woods said four of the Tigers’ wins during the American Qualifier came by one run.

All but two players for the Dallas Tigers will enter their senior year of high school this fall.

After being one of the first teams to qualify for the world series, the Tigers haven’t taken much time off. Woods said the team has continued to play in tournaments and showcases during the weekends to stay sharp.

Woods said the Tigers defense will be critical for any success, and one of the leaders for the Tigers will be shortstop and Oklahoma State University commit Ryan Vilade, who recently played in the Under Armour All-American Game at Wrigley Field in Chicago and won the event’s home-run derby with 18 homers.

"He’s one of those guys that kind of goes unnoticed because he doesn’t make errors, and everything hit to him is an out. He’s kind of a shadow out there," Woods said of Vilade.

Leading the Tigers pitching rotation will be Eli Davis, a lefty from Shawnee, Okla.

"He’s just a little guy. He’s 5-foot-6, 140 (pounds) soaking wet, but he throws it 90 mph and has a good breaking ball,” Woods said.

2016 Connie Mack World Series preview

A Closer Look

Coach: Kyle Woods

Hometown: Dallas

Region: American

Roster (number, player, position)

1 Canaan Smith, C

2 Ray Gaither, P/INF

3 William Adair, P/INF

9 Jaxx Groshans, C

12 Dylan Ditzenberger, P/INF

13 JJ Montenegro, P

14 Zachary DeLoach, P/OF

18 Daniel Martinez, P

19 Ryan Vilade, INF

22 Jacob Martinez, OF

23 Mark Ready, INF

27 Spencer Hynes, P/INF

28 Collin Storms, P

33 Russell Smith, P

44 Eli Davis, P/OF

45 Jordan Groshan, INF