MEEKER I As the last Professional Painting batter struck out in the top of the fifth inning Wednesday at Woodbury Sports Complex, the Meeker I players put their hands in the air to celebrate a perfect 11-0 season.
The celebration eventually culminated with a team pile up on home plate, a location head coach Dave Scherbarth had worked with his batters the most in the week leading up to the Craig Parks and Recreation 8- to 10-year-old championship game.“We did a lot of batting practice and we knew it was going to be a tough game,” Scherbarth said. “I instilled in the boys since the beginning of the season that on any give day, any team can win. We needed to be able to hit to win.”The Meeker I players came through, scoring two runs in the first inning and four runs in the second to beat Professional Painting, 6-1.It was the second straight championship for Scherbarth’s team.“It’s not so much about winning two back-to-back titles, but rather about the kids,” Scherbarth said. “I am proud of the way they played and the sportsmanship they displayed. They played their little hearts out.”Austin Mortensen, 9, was the first Meeker I player to get a hit in the first inning, also scoring the first run after being batted in by teammate Jake Shelton.“I was nervous going up to the plate, but once I got on base I was pumped,” Mortensen said. “We all batted pretty good and most of the team was swinging instead of waiting.”Meeker I beat Professional Painting on July 5, 1-0, to advance to the championship game. Because the tournament was double elimination, Professional Painting beat Rehab Services of Craig to meet back up with Meeker I.Scherbarth said the extra game made Professional Painting’s star pitcher, Anthony Ventura, ineligible to pitch Wednesday.“There were a few times we left runners on base, but we took advantage of a different pitcher,” Scherbarth said. “We were just on and kept moving runners around the bases.”Defensively, Scherbarth said each player knew what his assignment was.In the top of the second inning with a Professional Painting runner on first, Shelton scooped up a ground ball at first base, tagged the plate and threw to second where shortstop Kale Burke completed the double play.“I could not have asked for a better game defensively,” Scherbarth said. “The kids knew where they had to be when the ball was in motion and Kale was there when the ball was thrown to him.”While Mortensen gave most of the credit to the team’s pitcher, Chris Scherbarth, he said the rest of the defense was in position when needed.“We were all on our toes and ready for everything,” he said. “When the ball was hit, we were there to stop it and make the play.”Throughout the season, Scherbarth said his team continued to make improvements and never gave up.“At first we came out wide eyed and stuck with the basics,” he said. “As the players continued to improve, we never backed from the basics, but we gelled and became one as a team.“I am so proud to have coached everyone of the kids on my team.”
By Joshua Gordon
This story was republished with the permission of the Craig Daily Press. Joshua Gordon can be reached at 875-1795 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.