OTTUMWA – Sure, this time of year there is plenty to be seen about the tournament trail teams are headed down in the pursuit to be state champions.
But intensity to prove you’re the best baseball and softball team in the state doesn’t just exist on the diamonds at Harlan Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge and Principal Park in Des Moines.
In fact, as we’ve already seen this summer, the pursuit of a state baseball or softball title can be found at many different levels. And in some cases, the pursuit of that title can be found right in your own backyard.
From the USSSA Eastern Iowa State Softball titles that were won in Ottumwa to the recently completed 14-year-old Babe Ruth Tournament held this past week in Albia, southern Iowa has already played host to several teams from all around Iowa where friendly competition and long-lasting memories have gone hand-in-hand. More of the same can be expected this week as well as a local southern Iowa community will be kicking off a week of hosting statewide Little League fun tomorrow.
At least some from that area will. Most, however, may have their attention focused on another Little League State Tournament going on a few hours north as another group of young men from around the area look to bring a championship home.
Appanoose County looks to claim 11-12 Little League State Title as 9-10 State Tourney begins
The last weekend of July was going to be an exciting one anyway for those that support Little League baseball in Appanoose County. That was a given when Appanoose County Baseball Association won the right to host the 9-10-year-old Iowa State Little League Baseball State Tournament in Centerville.
It got a little more exciting when the home team Appanoose County 9-10 All Stars booked their ticket to the tournament just a couple weeks later. The local squad will join Albia-based Monroe County in representing Iowa’s District 7 in the state tournament.
But with what’s been going on this past week in Boone, however, there may be a whole lot of celebrating going on in Centerville and the surrounding area this weekend. Because if the 9-10-year-old Appanoose County squad can win the state title on their home diamond, they could complete a very remarkable sweep that might start this weekend with the run being their 11-12-year-old peers.
While the Appanoose County “minor” league squad prepares for a state title run on their home diamond, the Appanoose County “major” league team has put themselves within one win of their state championship. The Centerville-based 11-12-year-old team wrapped up a 5-2 run through round-robin play at the Iowa State Little League Tournament in Boone with a dominating 12-2, four-inning mercy rule win over Knoxville that locked up all tiebreaking scenarios to clinch a spot in today’s state title game.
There was certainly no guarantee of Appanoose County’s berth to the championship entering the day as one of four teams tied for the two automatic bids to the title game. Needing to win and not allow several runs to be scored against them, Appanoose County took care of business early by scoring 12 runs in the first three innings to make the last two runs in the fourth scored by Knoxville meaningless in terms of extending the game or keeping the Centerville-based squad from finishing with the lowest total runs allowed in the tournament total of 31, which is the first tiebreaker after head-to-head.
Griffin Cosgrove had three hits and scored three runs while driving in one for Appanoose County while McCain Oden had a hit and also scored three times. Hunter Arbogast drove in three runs to lead Appanoose County in the clinching win over Knoxville.
All that was left to decide on Friday was Appanoose County’s opponent for Saturday’s championship game, which will be played today at 5 p.m. in Boone. Urbandale, Sioux City’s Morningside squad, Davenport East Blue and the host team Boone National all mathematically had opportunities to clinch a berth alongside Appanoose County on Friday heading into their final round robin game.
A victory today would make Appanoose County the first team from the southeastern Iowa area to win the Little League 11-12-year-old state title since Davis County in 2006. That Bloomfield squad not only came within one win of qualifying for the Little League World Series, but would produce players that led the Mustang High School baseball program to their first three state tournament appearances and first-ever state tournament title in 2011.
While the 11-12-year-old Appanoose County squad will be trying to win that state title, the 9-10-year old state tournament will begin in Appanoose County earlier today. This morning, in fact, eight teams will be playing at Memorial Park in Centerville, with the first game starting at 11 a.m.
After the first four games of the day, which will include afternoon contests at 1, 3 and 5 p.m., a dinner at the fields for visitors and the community will be held offering either pulled pork sandwiches or a hot dog plate. There is no charge, but freewill donations are being accepted. All the participating teams will also be introduced, and former Indian Hills baseball coach Rick Mathews will speak to the kids before a fireworks show ends the opening night festivities.
Volunteers are needed to help out with the tournament during the opening weekend. In addition, the Appanoose County Baseball Association has finalized a souvenir program as well other contributions from local businesses and individuals to help with the financing of the state tournament.
The championship game will take place at 1 p.m. today. Like the 11-12-year-old tournament, all eight teams in Centerville this week play each other in round robin competition with the top two teams earning championship berths.
For more on this tournament, including a list of the teams competing and the full schedule of games and events, go to appanoosebaseball.org.
Ottumwa soccer squads play in Iowa Games
A pair of youth soccer squads represented Ottumwa well on a statewide stage. Two Ottumwa “Bulldog” soccer teams participated in the Iowa Games in Ames earlier this month.
The Ottumwa 12-year-old male/coed 8-on-8 squad, coached by Guillermo Trejo, finished first in their four-team bracket. The team is made up of Juan Andrade, Fidel Andres, Keaton Arnold, Jonathon Bossou, Axel Botello, Pedro Gonzalez, Shai Guido, Eduardo Padilla, Anthony Wilson Segovia, Christian Silva, Luis Soza, Christian Trejo, Marcus Wilz and Jose Yepes.
Also competing in the Iowa Games were the Ottumwa Bulldogs 8-and-under male/coed 4-on-4 squad. The team was coached by Ramon Garza and featured team members Emily Castellanos, Viridiana Castellanos, Mia Garza, Lexi Paulos, Maisie Paulos, Christopher Rodriguez, Gissele Sales, Kristi Sanchez and Alejandro Yepes.
Teams from Fairfield and Oskaloosa were also in the tournament as well.
Keep checking the Courier next week. I’ll have more on tournament action of all kind, state tournament and otherwise. Maybe even a mention or two in a future Area Sports Notebook.
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