LARNED — Hard work and dedication paid off for the Girard 14-and-under Babe Ruth baseball team, which capped off a historic run in the state tournament with an 11-2 victory over Garden City in the championship game on July 16.
After winning four consecutive games in the district tournament, Girard went undefeated en route to winning the state tournament, holding every opponent scoreless before the championship game.
“I was just really proud of the kids,” Girard assistant coach Joey Davenport said. “To be in the state championship and win by that much was great. I wasn’t surprised by how well we played defense, but I don’t think we committed a single error the entire game. If we did, it didn’t amount to anything. I was more proud of our defense and pitching than I was of our hitting. It was just really impressive.”
The first stop of the journey for the Girard all-stars was Fort Scott, where they punched their ticket to state with a win over Pittsburg in the district championship game.
“Our defense played really well,” Girard head coach Scott Harrison said. “Everybody stepped it up and played really well. They knew where they were going with the ball when it was hit to them and did an excellent job throughout both tournaments.”
Despite some of the kids being unable to make the trip to Larned with the team, Girard still managed to dominate the competition in the tournament.
“I was worried that we weren’t going to have enough players to go to state” Harrison said. “With vacations and other summer plans, it was nice for parents to allow their kids to go. The parents have helped a lot just by shuffling their plans around so the kids could make the trip.”
A long weekend of baseball saw Girard get wins over Clear Water, Newton and Larned before going on to beat Garden City in the state title game.
“They were super excited,” Harrison said. “These boys have been playing together on traveling teams since they were about seven or eight. A few of them have played in and won state championships before, so they expected nothing less than to go out and win. That’s what they came to do and they put their mind to it.”
In addition to great talent and work ethic, Harrison said the team chemistry separates them from the competition.
“These boys have played together for a long time,” Harrison said. “I contribute a lot of the success to Jerry O’Rand and Joey Davenport for starting this team. They’ve worked with these kids and have just been unbelievable. The kids have the upmost respect for Jerry O’Rand and really loved playing for him.”
Winning is important to the team, but regardless of the outcome, Harrison said the kids want to have fun.
“These kids like to have fun and push my patience, but they always have our backs and teach us to relax a little bit,” Harrison said. “They practice hard, but they like to have fun also, which is the main idea. They like to have fun and win.”
MVP winners in the state tournament include Caden Lallemand, Logan Thomas, Davis Davenport and Brahm Born.
The WOW award winners in the state tournament were Davis Davenport, Logan Thomas, Born and Zach Davis.
— Jordan Buckamneer is the sports editor of the Pittsburg Morning Sun. E-mail him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @jbuckamneer.