World Series ends too soon for Scrappers
Another foot or two here or there, and the De Soto Scrappers may have brought home some serious hardware from last weekend's "AA" United States Specialty Sports Association 13-and-younger World Series in Omaha.
Instead, the local team bowed out of the tournament in the first round of the championship bracket. Had the Scrappers found a way to win their first-round game, the team would have made its way into double elimination play.
It's always said that pitching and defense win championships. But De Soto coach Don Clark said it was hard-luck hitting that was the main culprit in the Scrappers earlier-than-expected exit against the eventual runner-up Olathe Rangers.
"Overall, we played well," the coach, said. "We just didn't hit well. Our pitching was every bit as good as theirs. But our line drives always seemed to go right to somebody, and then theirs usually found a gap. A couple of feet one way or the other was the difference in that game."
The Scrappers started the tournament with a hot hand. After three pool games, the De Soto team had the No. 5 seed in the 18-team field, and a 2-1 record.
The team's wins came against the Lincoln (Neb.) Sox, 8-4, and the NKCA Bulldogs, 6-0. The Blue Devils handed De Soto its first loss of the tournament in the opening game by a 5-3 margin. The Rangers then ended the Scrappers season with a 6-0 shutout.
While De Soto was wrapping up a high seed, the Rangers picked up the No. 12 seed with a 1-2 pool mark. But Clark said the Olathe team used good strategy.
"We put more emphasis on pool play," he said. "That may have cost me. They didn't. They saved their pitching for the championship bracket. It's a risk. In their case, it worked. If it backfires, a team can end up as a bottom-four seed. Then you get stuck playing more games."
Despite the disappointment, the Scrappers did have fun. Tournament officials set up the tournament so teams could enjoy some of the sights and sounds of Omaha, including a trip to the famous Henry Doorly Zoo.
The Scrappers were also thrilled by the opportunity to play at Rosenblatt Stadium, the home of the Omaha Royals.
"The kids were in awe," Clark said. "They were walking into the stadium which just held the college World Series."
Clark said the five to six days spent in Omaha were a learning experience for the team.
"I think the kids learned a lot about having to stick together," the coach said. "Being kids and having fun, sometimes they lose focus as to why they're there. Kids are kids, but I think they discovered that when one kid is down they have to be strong and pick the kid up."
Glen Robinson's De Soto-1 team didn't fare as well as they would have liked to at the Big 4 League tournament. But they did have success in finishing fourth at the tournament.
De Soto finished the regular season with a 9-3 record before finishing 2-2 in tournament play -- not bad for a team that finished with less than a handful of wins last year. Regular season records were used for seeding purposes.
"When it comes to kids ball, it boils down to pitching and taking advantage of other team's mistakes," Robinson said.