Team takes fourth place
It almost didn’t happen.
After the regular Junior Little League season ended in June, it was hoped there would be enough players to form an All-Star team from South Whidbey.
There weren’t, but at the last minute Bob Brown, the manager from Coupeville, called and suggested a combined team if South Whidbey coach Andy McRea was interested.
Oh, yeah, McRea was interested.
“I had three kids who love the sport and they really wanted to play,” he said.
There were a lot of administrative forms to fill out — Little League has its bureaucratic aspects, after all — but the word came back that the combined team was approved.
In the end, a Central-South Whidbey All-Star team was cobbled together with Miles Goodman, Robert Kirby and Jacob Olmstead representing the South End plus nine players from Coupeville.
The idea worked like a charm. At the District 11 tournament at Volunteer Field in Anacortes, the boys won four straight games and the district championship over Sedro-Woolley, Anacortes, Oak Harbor and Friday Harbor.
The victories propelled the team to the state championship tourney in Auburn. The team outscored their opponents 48-20 with an average 12 runs per game and were behind for only one inning the entire tournament.
“These guys were all playing hardcore baseball,” McRea said.
At the state championship, they won their first outing over Glenwood, 7-0. But then things took a bit of a nose dive.
The problem was distance; with the games being played south of Seattle, many parents decided to spend that Saturday night in local motels, giving both them and their kids a break.
Sometimes, the best of intentions result in unexpected consequences.
“Eight of 12 kids were up all night celebrating their victory,” McRea recalled. “They were a little flat the next day.”
Flat as in a 20-0 tidal wave from North Everett. To make matters worse, shortstop Kirby intercepted a line drive and suffered an injury.
“I dove for it and felt my shoulder pop,” he said. “I wasn’t going to play the next day but decided I could bat as a lefty.”
Good call — Kirby went 4-for-4 in an 8-7 win over Evergreen and he and Goodwin combined for a couple suicide squeeze plays to boot.
The following day, Olmstead went the distance on the mound as the All-Stars won 14-2 over West Plains.
But when North Everett lost their third game, it was time for a re-match.
“Our guys got fired up when the other fellows started talking trash in the parking lot,” McRea said.
But the game was called for rain, then again the following day but not before the team showed up, well-rested and ready to rock.
The whole process was tough on the parents.
“It was the middle of the work week and we had to do a lot of schedule juggling and car pooling,” Ryan Goodwin said.
Though North Everett moved ahead 7-2 in the third inning, the Central-South All-Stars overcame the gap with a 10-8 victory in the tournament’s major comeback game.
“Our boys knew they were losing, but they came back to the field on fire,” McRea said. “It was an amazing feat; you could say the North Everett contest was our championship victory game.”
“We beat North Everett, but they didn’t have a good attitude at all, win or lose,” Miles Goodwin said.
Eventually, Selah National took the Central-South Whidbey squad out of the running for a shot at nationals in Oregon.
The three local All-Stars — Kirby, Goodwin and Olmstead — will be attending South Whidbey High School as freshmen next month and, not surprisingly, plan to try out for the Falcon baseball team in the spring.
Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.