Hard work has paid off for Delaware

Last year, Newark, Del., coach Joe Poppiti found out the hard way that setting overly ambitious goals can come back to bite you when his team – one he believed would make it to South Williamsport – fell short by a run in the Mid-Atlantic Region championship and was sent home.

“We had really big, tall players who threw the ball hard, and we set our sights on Williamsport,” Poppiti said. “When we lost in the regional championship, 1-0, it was devastating.”

As painful as that loss was, Poppiti thinks it helped in the long run because it taught him not to look too far ahead in the schedule and keep team goals modest.

“It was a lesson for me to set short-term goals,” he said. “Short-term goal No. 1 was to make it to the district championship. We got there, I want to win it. Short-term goal (No.) 2 was to get to the state final. We got there, I want to win it. Then it was to get through pool play, and we did. After that try to win the semifinal game and then the championship.

“When you piece it up like that and try to keep your goals small it makes things go smoother,” Poppiti said. “This is just another step along the way now.”

Setting short-term, as opposed to long-term, goals unquestionably has worked in Newark’s favor. Not only has it made it to the Little League World Series as the Mid-Atlantic champ, it also enjoyed a first round victory after defeating Midwest champ Urbandale, Iowa, 6-3, on Friday.

But Poppiti says the goal-setting approach isn’t the only reason for Newark’s success this season, the other part of it is determination and interminable work ethic.

“When you have guys who are willing to work hard, and these kids are willing to work their butts off, the magic can happen,” he said.

“We’ve dedicated a lot of time to this. We’ve practiced everyday, we’ve had two-a-days. So, to see it play out like this is completely gratifying. It’s a credit to all of them.”

Unfortunately for Newark, it lost its second-round game against Chula Vista, Calif., 15-3, on Sunday.

However, Poppiti thinks the wins and losses his team aquires during the Series are trivial because what he really wants is for his players to enjoy the moment.

“To come here and see these guys get to experience this is great,” he said. “My hope is that they are going to appreciate what is happening.

“We’re here to play baseball, and, yes, we want to win games, but just look around – it’s unbelievable here.”