Little League Baseball in the South is a crazy little thing.

It's splendidly wonderful and thoroughly competitive and ridiculously political.  And you either choose to ride the crazy ride, or you choose to not.  Because there isn't much middle ground in baseball.  You're either whole-hog, or you go home.  There's no "playing for fun" or "everyone wins" when a certain level of baseball is reached.  It's all about the intensity of the game.  The thrill of winning.  The extreme talent possessed in tiny bodies.

What?  You don't get it?  You don't understand how we could subject our babies to such craziness and pressure?

Believe me.  There are nights that I wonder why we do it.  But then...when experiences happen like what we experienced this summer...then it all makes sense. 

See this little guy?

He's why we do it. 

Because he loves the game.  And he's good.  Really good.  And we're proud.  Really proud.

Sawyer was honored to be chosen for the 7 & 8 Year Old Rookie League All-Star team for our League.  (If you don't know baseball....it's a big deal.) 

All-Stars is a special team hand-picked out of the bigger league teams that brings the best players together to compete for the State title.  It is a huge commitment and requires daily practices for two weeks before the District Tournament and daily practices for the two weeks before the State Tournament.  What that equals out to is.....Baseball. Every Day. Every. Single. Day.

We headed out-of-town to the District Tournament the 2nd weekend in June and spent 4 days straight playing baseball and bonding as a team.  We, along with several other team members and their families, chose to stay over in a hotel which is the.very.best.way. to bond with each other.  Late nights talking and laughing and swimming in the hotel pool turns baseball players and fans into family. 

The tournament was intense, but we were able to not only win the District Championship title, but our team was able to pull out the entire thing as Undefeated Champs!! 

To say that we were proud of our boys is the understatement of the year.

As excited as we were it was time to look forward to the State Tournament.  One little hiccup was that Kirk and I had planned our trip to Mexico around tournament schedules, but had not really considered practice schedules.  We were left with a major dilemma.  Send Sawyer on to my parents' with his brothers and have him miss a crucial week of practice before the huge tourney, or leave him in town to practice baseball.  One of the hardest decisions of my life.  Last thing I wanted to do was separate the boys with Kirk and I out of the country, but commitments to teams and baseball are a HUGE deal for our family.  Lots of people didn't understand or agree with our choice, but we felt like we were making the best one for the situation and the circumstances.  Kirk and I are so grateful to the families that took Sawyer in that week for the sake of baseball!!  I'm telling you....that baseball family really is family!

As soon as Kirk and I landed, we were off and running with baseball again.  It was time for the State Tourney, and we traded our swimsuits and beach clothes for uniforms and team tee shirts. 

Luckily, our town was hosting the State Tourney, so we were at least able to sleep in our own beds and wash our clothes in our own washing machines.  Such a blessing that was!!

The State Tournament was held over the 4th of July weekend, and it was maddening.  I've never had blood pressure problems in my life, but I'm pretty sure they developed that weekend!  Stressful and exhausting doesn't even begin to explain the emotional roller coaster that that level of baseball will take you on.  INSANE.

Again, our team rocked it!  We continued our winning streak straight through the tournament bracket.  Amazing record for a group of hard-working 7 and 8 year olds!  We entered into the Championship game for the State title as undefeated champs.  The ONLY team in the entire tournament that had never lost a game. 

Now...I'm still bitter about the ending of this story.  I'm not a sore loser...I'm really not.  I just want to know that the other team won fairly and squarely.  And I honestly feel like our boys were robbed of a title that was rightfully theirs.  I'm not sure things were played fairly or ethically, and I think our boys were given the short stick.

The Championship game was extended to two games, and we came up with losses for both games.  But I cannot tell you a group of parents, coaches, and fans that were more proud of a group of kids.  The boys played the very best that they could with the hand that they were dealt, and they handled themselves with maturity and amazing sportsmanship.  So.Proud.

So, we ended up Runners Up in State.  Not too shabby of a title, I don't suppose. 

Would we do it again?

Absolutely.  Because it's what we do.

It's who Sawyer is right now.  And it's worth ever second.


Jim said...

So the bottom line call is ------ PLAY BALL!!!!!!!

Proud of you, SawDog, and we enjoyed seeing you play in the State Championship game.

Love you all,


Mich said...

Glad I got to see my favorite red headed slugger in action.

what a season! Great pictures. i have some pictures on my camera, that I will have to get to you.

Love ya!

mer@lifeat7000feet said...

We went to our neighbor's t-ball game last week....so cute. I loved it and was sad none of my kids like playing baseball. They're always up for watching it but I can't get anyone to want to play.

Congrats to Sawyer. That is such a BIG deal!!!

Kellie said...

Very proud of Sawyer and his team! What an amazing season they had!

My running friend has a little boy who plays base ball, and with All-Stars and these extra games y'all play, they are STILL playing ball and the season started in February!

You baseball mom's deserve a trophy too!