Little League baseball: Eat seeds, hit dingers, and win championships

I’ve posted a couple times about the Little League baseball team I coached this season. We had some ups and downs, fortunately mostly ups. Our season ended Friday night with the postseason tournament.

After an incredible 6-0 start to the season, our kids hit a rough patch after a heartbreaking extra-inning loss and finished the season 9-3. During that time, we switched our focus from hitting (they had really been struggling to even take the bat of their shoulder to start the season) to defense. We were to the point where we simply needed outs and we needed to show them how to get them. The combination of a lockdown defense and dialed-in pitching turned out to be the ticket.

With the second seed in hand at season’s end, we took the tournament. Somehow, our seeding turned out to be more beneficial than the top seed because of the schedule and league pitching rules. We cruised through the first three rounds of the tournament and outscored opponents by a total of 31-8. These kids were hitting the ball all over the yard, taking extra bases at will, and our pitchers were cutting batters down like a buzz saw. They were peaking just in time for the title game.

Friday night, we played for the league title and everybody was loose and ready to go from the start of the game. The kids came into the game and set the tone in the first inning with strong pitching then plated six runs in the bottom half of the inning. They never looked back. Everybody put the bat on the ball at least once and hit it hard. Our kid who had already hit two inside-the-park home runs this season, finally got one over the fence for the team’s lone dinger of the year. We had a 15-4 lead by the time we reached the hour and a half time limit in the bottom of the third inning, the umpire called the game, and we were the champions.

I couldn’t be more proud of this group and the improvements they made across the board this season. It took a lot of time, effort, patience, and almost three bags of sunflower seeds (I had to stress eat them during games), but everybody learned and a had a good time. One of the best parts of the whole experience was hearing from parents how much fun the kids were having. My typical response was, “I don’t know who’s having more fun, us or them.” And I meant it every time.

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