PDT Sports Editor
SOUTH WEBSTER — The South Webster Little League 10-11 boys All-Star team won the District 11 Little League Tournament Saturday and was escorted home with a parade. A worthy welcome as the team is the first boys squad in South Webster Little League’s history to advance to the State Tournament.
“It was a great experience and the community has really come together to support these kids,” South Webster Little League President Mark Miller said.
The 10-11 boys were 3-0 in the District 11 Tournament and defeated Wheelersburg 3-2 in Saturday’s championship to advance to the State Tournament that will be held this weekend in Clyde, Ohio.
“That was the happiest I have ever seen a group of kids,” South Webster coach Whitey Hayden said.
In the regular season, South Webster was 13-1 and Hayden said the key to the team’s success was and continues to be a willingness to learn.
“They are a good group of kids and they listen very well and work hard on the field,” Hayden said. “They stay in front of the ball and right now we are swinging the bats really well.”
This same group reached the Final Four a year ago in the 9- and 10-year-olds District 11 Tournament.
“I’ve had part of this group for three years, half for two years and we added three or four more players this year,” Hayden said. “We worked real hard with the kids that moved up and they molded right in with the rest of the team.”
According to Hayden, Saturday’s victory has brought support from every corner of the South Webster community.
“It’s a real big deal. Everyone in South Webster is really excited, more so than I expected,” Hayden said. “People who do not even have kids in Little League and wouldn’t normally go to games are out supporting the team.”
Many teams make postseason runs when all the pieces come together at just the right time, but Hayden said his team is simply sustaining the success they had in the regular season.
“The kids realize that one person doesn’t win a game,” the coach said. “They have picked each other up and are way ahead of maybe where they expected to be. We only lost one game in the regular season and went undefeated last season. This is a consistent team.”
The District 11 champions will leave for the State Tournament Friday, but there is a lot of work to be done before the caravan leaves South Webster. Players and parents are working to raise funds for the travel expenses of the weekend.
“Businesses are stepping up and the community has come out to support the team,” Miller said. “The kids have put together $3,000 since Saturday.”
The effort on the diamond continues as well.
“The only thing we need to work on is pitching. If we get good pitching we will do well,” Hayden said. “I have a left-hander that throws mid-60s and two righties that throw mid-60s. Each of them has good control.”
South Webster will face District 7, the home district, to open the State Tournament Saturday.
Anyone interested in contributing to South Webster Little League’s fundraising effort can donate to any player, visit South Webster businesses or call Mark Miller at 876-9588.
Bob Strickley may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 203, or firstname.lastname@example.org.