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South Whidbey All Stars bring home District 11 crown
The cakewalk ended much too early, but the South Whidbey Little League All Stars 10/11 team still got its just deserts in the end.
Rebounding from mid-tournament losses delivered by North Whidbey and Sedro-Woolley, the South Whidbey squad won in a rematch against Sedro-Woolley to take the District 11 Championship title last week.
“It was awesome. They were very goal-focused. They knew what they wanted to do and they got it done,” said team manager Craig Antich.
The South Whidbey team is now headed to the state playoffs, which start this weekend in Selah.
The district crown was especially sweet because the team roster is filled with players from the South Whidbey team that was booted prematurely from the district tournament two years ago because of the whooping cough scare.
“It was a great achievement for South Whidbey Little League,” Antich said. “Their hard work and focus paid off.”
“Our goal going into this was to go to state,” said Coach Bill Patterson. “We have a pretty good group of kids. And we’ve been working with them since T-ball.”
The South End team started off the District 11 tournament last week with a 10-0 win over Burlington in a game called early.
Charlie Patterson pitched the first three innings and went 3-for-3 on the offensive end. Max Divina had a double and went 3-for-4, and Connor Antich a couple of singles and a double for South Whidbey.
Next up was Sedro-Woolley in a matchup that would have given Bill Murray flashbacks. This game also ended early, with South Whidbey 10-running Sedro-Woolley, 16-6.
“I’ve coached baseball a long time and I’ve never seen a game like this where we had 16 runs. We scored four runs each inning,” he said, with the same four players.
“It was like ‘Groundhog Day.’ We relived the same inning over and over and over and over.”
“We expected a real battle out of them,” Coach Patterson said. “We’ve seen these Sedro kids already a bunch this year. They did not play up to their talent level.”
“They looked nervous, they played poor defense, they gave us a lot of opportunities,” he said.
A game highlight was when Trenton Piehler came in to pitch for the South End squad.
“He was a bulldog against a very good Sedro-Woolley team,” Patterson said.
The easy walk through the tourney ended against North Whidbey.
South Whidbey fell behind early after giving up a two-run homer in the first inning.
The South End crew scratched back to tie it 2-2, but North Whidbey collected on a three-run homer and outpaced the local boys to tie up a 12-5 win.
Even so, Will Simms’ performance in the game against North Whidbey, when Simms got a fourth-inning call to pitch, became a tournament highlight.
“That’s what shut them down; Will Simms ended up being a hero,” the coach said, recalling a 35-pitch effort across three innings. “It was a lights-out performance.”
After the loss, next up was Sedro-Woolley. Again.
Patterson was back as starting pitcher, and the team was coming off a day of rest. But South Whidbey quickly dug itself a four-run hole.
The team pulled it back by the bottom of the sixth, down 6-5, with bases loaded and just one out on the board. South Whidbey couldn’t make due on its last two chances, though, and Sedro-Woolley escaped with a 7-6 win.
That set up the title game between South Whidbey and Sedro-Woolley.
South Whidbey turned to Simms to start on the mound. He went six innings for a complete game, throwing 73 pitches where the allowed max is only a dozen more.
South Whidbey won, 4-1, to take the District 11 crown.
“Will Simms pitched an absolute gem under a huge amount of pressure,” Patterson said.
“Connor Antich and Parker Buchanan, who catches and plays second, they were just solid,” the coach added.
The team — which also includes Gary Skym, Josiah Sergeant, Josiah Colby, Tyler Heggenes, Hunter Newman, Austin Heston and coaches Eddie Sergeant and Paul Divina — is now getting set for today’s first game of the state playoffs.
“We’ve got a good team. We’ll see what happens,” the coach said.