Little League team’s dream season ends
An amazing run came to an end earlier this week in Grand Junction.
In the past month, the Steamboat Springs U-14 baseball team has collected a district title, a state title and became the first team from here to play in Little League’s Southwestern Regional Junior Championship.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” coach Doug Wood said. “This is a great bunch of kids.”
Wood knew that winning the regional title and advancing to Michigan for the Little League World Series would be a long shot. By Tuesday night, the team’s dream season had come to an end with Steamboat finishing 1-2 in the tournament.
But there was no disappointment in Wood’s voice Thursday as he recounted his team’s amazing run and their final regional games.
Two of the teams that Steamboat faced, Texas West and New Mexico, qualified to play in Williamsport, Pa., at the Little League World Series as 12-year-old squads. The teams have stayed in tact and, as Steamboat learned, just as strong at 14 as they were at 12.
Texas West displayed solid pitching and great fielding en route to downing Steamboat in Sunday’s opener, 14-1.
“Those kids from Texas all know baseball,” Wood said. “It’s the only sport they play, and they play it year round.”
Despite the loss, Steamboat entered the second game Monday against New Mexico with high hopes.
Things looked good early with Steamboat taking a 5-0 lead early in the game. But the deeper New Mexico team rallied late and ended up coming from behind to win, 11-6.
Wood said New Mexico’s depth turned out to be the difference down the stretch.
He admitted he should have pulled his starting pitcher, but felt by using one of his top-two in relief would hurt the team the next day.
But in a fitting end to the season, the Steamboat team ended the tournament with a 15-5 win over Mississippi.
“It’s a great way for these kids to end their Little League careers,” Wood said.
Most of the players on the team will move onto Legion and high school baseball next season. But Wood thinks the team’s success this year will be felt in the ranks of the Steamboat Springs Little League Association for years to come.
“The kids coming to Little League are going to look at what this team did and think, ‘Hey we can do that, too,'” Wood said.
— To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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