De Soto teams fall short in state tournament
Overland Park Raptors, Corporate Express and Good Shepherd Cardinals earn state titles
Following the quarterfinals of last weekend's United States Specialty Sports Association 'A' State Baseball Tournament, it appeared De Soto was in excellent position to land a state champion in either the 8-and-under, 11-and-under or 12-and-under age divisions.
But the three De Soto teams made their way into the semifinals, and all three teams were eliminated in that same round.
In the 8-and-under portion of the tournament played on the 'B' field at Miller Park, the Blue Gators bowed out after a narrow 16-15 loss to the eventual runner-up, Balagna Royals from Platte City, Mo.
In the same tournament, the Sharks fell victim to an on-fire Good Shepherd Cardinal squad. The Cards went on to defeat Balagna in the finals.
De Soto's third team to earn a berth in the final four was coach Don Clark's De Soto Scrappers. But the team came up short of a championship when Eudora, the eventual runner-up in the 11-and-under age bracket, squeaked out a 10-9 win.
Early in the game, however, it appeared as if the Scrappers were on their way to the finals when they jumped out to an early inning 4-0 lead. Eudora used a patient offense to chisel away at the home team's advantage. The Cardinals scratched their way to a 7-5 advantage after five innings in the streak-filled game.
Clark's team produced another four-run inning in the sixth, earning a 9-7 lead. The team appeared to cement the win when it had the Cardinals down to their final out and a two-strike count in the bottom half of the inning.
The Cardinals answered by getting the runner aboard via a walk and winning 10-9. Eudora had back-to-back-to-back hits in the rally.
"Overall, it was a great ball game," Clark said, "and one that I'll never forget. They had some good hits. I'm not going to take anything away from them. They did what they needed to."
This year's loss to the Cardinals mirrored a one-run loss the Scrappers suffered at the hands of Eudora last year. The only difference from last year to this year was that last year's setback occurred in the championship game.
"We were up on them last year, too," Clark said. "And they were able to find a way to win in the final inning then, too."
Clark referred to his star pitchers T.J. Martin and Bret Williams as key cogs in the scrapper lineup, along with his son Logan, who threw out several kids on the bases from his catcher position.
But what really put excitement in his voice was discussing the offensive success each of his players had from the plate.
"In single-elimination play on Sunday everybody on our team had at least one hit," he said. "It was real neat for me to see that. It says a lot about our team."
In pool play, the Scrappers lost to tournament champion Corporate Express out of Overland Park by an 18-15 margin Saturday. They then bounced back with a 13-2 win over the Overland Park Blue Devils, and an 8-0 victory over the Indians of Overland Park, securing the No. 5 seed.
The Scrappers secured a spot in the semi-finals with a 15-5 pasting of the fourth seeded Tigers.
In 12-and-under pool play, the (De Soto) Ravens lost to the Renegades of Overland Park 16-1 and the Overland Park Raptors by the same score to lock up the No. 6 seed. They then fell to the Raptors again by a 17-7 count in first-round bracket play.
The De Soto Gators earned the No. 5 seed with a 12-11 loss to Cherryvale and a 3-2 win over the Raptors. Their 15-11 defeat at the hands of the champion Renegades ended their season.
De Soto's Jim Cannon Trucking fell to the Coffeyville Reds by a 15-0 count and lost to Cherryvale 18-1, beginning bracket play with the No. 7 seed.
The Blue Gators began pool play with a 16-8 pounding over the eventual runner-up and edged by the champions 7-5, earning the No. 1 seed. But, after receiving a first-round bye, the 2-0 Blue Gators fell to the Royals in the semifinals.
The Sharks fell to the Basehor Royals 11-10 in their first pool game and then pounded De Soto Feed and Grain 21-4, earning the No. 3 seed.
The Sharks then knocked off Feed and Grain again in the quarterfinals 12-4 before falling to Good Shepherd.
De Soto Feed and Grain's other pool play loss came at the hands of Good Shepherd 20-3.