Chadron baseball fans had no shortage of action to choose from this past weekend as Chadron Youth Baseball hosted a Babe Ruth 13U round-robin style tournament alongside the Cal Ripken 11U State Tournament.
Later this month Maurice Horse Field will play home to a series of high-stakes games when Chadron hosts the Babe Ruth 13U Regional Tournament, but for this weekend it would serve as host for a warm-up and the opportunity for area 13U teams to get in additional play before the State and Regional tournaments soon to follow.
“The goal was to get some boys as many games as we could to prep them for the State tournament,” Shelley Dunbar, organizer of the tournament says. “We were able to get all of the teams four games against each other. A lot of games were close, and I saw a lot of growth from their first games to their final games.”
Alliance, Gordon-Rushville, and Gering, joined the Chadron 14U and 13U teams in the tournament which didn’t track wins and losses, and had no official winner.
Chadron fans got a special treat to close out Saturday night as the Chadron 14U and 13U teams faced off against each other.
“It’s tough on all of us because we’re rooting for every single player on the field,” Dunbar says, but the “brother against brother,” style game offers a unique spectacle that put a nice cap to the action Saturday night.
The tournament went smoothly, and feedback from attending teams was positive. Running alongside the Cal Ripken tournament offered an opportunity for maximum exposure for both groups. “When both fields are going like that, it attracts attention,” says Dunbar.
“It took all of our 13 and 14 year old parents to work the concessions and the field, and I think it shows, when the teams that come here, when they can just come and play and things are nice for them,” Dunbar says.
The Chadron 13U team took full advantage of the tournament to stay fresh with two important tournaments quickly approaching later this month.
“I think we played fairly well until the last game, we kind of had a mental lapse…we had more errors than we’ve had probably the last five or eight games,” said Coach Laverne Berry
“Overall, for the weekend the kids played fairly well. Rushville, we got to them pretty good,” Berry continued, “Obviously against the Chadron 14 year-olds there were a lot of emotions back and forth as their buddies and teammates, but we hung on for that victory.
“We’re gaining momentum as State comes up here next weekend and then the Regional, we’re gearing up for that one there.”
According to Berry the game plan for the State tournament in Rushville will remain the same despite a situation that has led to only two other competitors, Gordon and Sidney, for Chadron to face; and a situation in which Chadron 13U is guaranteed to play at the Regional tournament due to its being held in Chadron.
Berry says the team has been looking for a rematch with Sidney for some time.
After State comes the Babe Ruth 13U Regional Tournament which will bring in competition from several states looking to move on to the 2018 Babe Ruth League World Series.
The Chadron 13U team will face big competition, but Berry says the team feels good about where it’s at and cites the teams pitching depth as a benefit going into the tournament.
One other benefit? Maurice Horse Field. Not only is it home turf for Chadron 13U, but it’s larger size may help even the playing field.
“We’re excited to play on the big field, we think that will even things out. Some places there’s a 200 foot fence and kids hit homeruns…to me the big field is going to even a lot of things out.”