BAXTER SPRINGS -- After a strong season of wins, the Baxter Springs 14-year-old Babe Ruth team is returning home from World Series action in Washington, without a hoped for national title.
After a spectacular season, which included 11 straight wins leading up to regional play, the team of young ballplayers, all from Baxter Springs, set out for battle with the best teams in the nation Aug. 17.
The final round of play began in a match against Jasper, Ind., with Baxter Springs getting only one hit and ultimately losing the game 8-0.
However, on Aug. 19, the Babe Ruth team faced-off with host-team Moses Lake, Wash., putting up a strong fight before falling behind with a final score of 6-5.
"We threw the ball well," said coach Shane Dotson. "Moses Lake is an awfully good team and it was truly a David versus Goliath kind of deal. Still, we had six or seven defensive errors and that was enough to give them the edge."
The team next faced-off with Bryant, Ark., Aug. 20, falling in that match-up 21-4, before finally losing to Clifton Park, New York with a score of 10-0, which ended the teams chances for the coveted World Series title.
Still, according to Dotson, the season was a tremendous success.
"We've made a mark," Dotson said. "and everybody in the CNC knows these boys are coming in their freshman year. Although we didn't win, we have learned more about where we're lacking."
Dotson said that errors were a significant factor in the teams losses, adding that his players need to hit the gym a little harder in the years ahead.
"We've gotta' get bigger and stronger and faster," Dotson said. "But we definitely don't want our boys to lose sight of what they did accomplish this season. None of us ever dreamed we would be going to the World Series and we're still a great baseball team."
Dotson said the community of Baxter Springs showed a tremendous amount of support for the young boys, adding that a fairly large number of fans traveled to Washington for the final round of play.
"We couldn't be more proud," Dotson said. "We've seen a high level of maturity in these young men and these losses do not define who we are. These boys have worked very well together, through both wins and losses, and are definitely a battle-tested group. They've represented their community very well and everybody should be extremely proud of them."
The team's final loss to Clifton Park put Baxter Springs out of pool play. Remaining teams in the national tournament now face single elimination games, with the crown ultimately decided on Aug. 24.
However, Dotson said the future of baseball looks very bright for his team of young players, who are now heading into their high school baseball careers.
"Our baseball horizon looks really good," Dotson said. "These boys have been playing together, on and off the field, since they were in grade school. And to accomplish what they have is really remarkable, especially when you consider how small a town Baxter Springs is and look at the teams we've had to beat to make it to a World Series tournament. We're definitely not hanging our heads as we get ready to head back home."
The team consists of coaches Shane Dotson and Brandy Williams, with players Jarret Dotson, Kaid Karnes, Chicago Elias, Ashton Cramer, Noah Wilson, Austin Williams, Nate Thompson, Matt Miles, Korben Frisbie, Jacob Williams, Drake Shaw and A.J. Himes, all of Baxter Springs.