“We had solid players who wanted to be there that worked hard,” said Cardinals head coach Scotty Brown. “I was really proud.”
Cardinals pitcher Charlie Whitlock pitched a complete game, struck out six and walked only two in the win.
Whitlocks pitch count was nearing the 85-pitch limit with one inning remaining when Brown and assistant coach Ty Whitlock (Charlie’s father) came out to the mound.
“He (Charlie) just looked at the two of us and said ‘I’m staying in,’ ” Brown said. “We weren’t going to dare take him out. Charlie pitched an extremely good game.”
Whitlock got the game’s final out on his 85th pitch.
Brown said the Cardinals, who finished 7-2-1, won on the strength of their fundamentals.
“If you can reduce your errors by playing good solid baseball, more times than not that’s going to add up to wins,” he said.
Brown said teaching the players how to play baseball the right way was more important than striving for a championship. Cardinal players were told to “use your head, don’t be afraid to take chances but use your head,” he said.
The Cardinals were able to beat the fundamentally sound Diamondbacks by taking advantage of their weaker pitching, Brown said.
A dozen of Powell’s 40 Major Little League players will continue playing baseball with the Powell all-star team. The roster, as chosen by Brown, who is the Powell Little League Majors director, and Chris Queen, division director for Powell Little League, is: Jesse Brown, Nate Brown, Reece Hackenberg, Jacob Herd, Jeremy Herd, Ben Jackson Jr., Ryley Myers, Dacen Phister, Colin Queen, Garrett Stutzman, Bennett Walker and Charlie Whitlock.
“I think this is the strongest 11- and 12-year-old team we’ve had in several years,” Brown said.
The Powell Major all-stars open play Friday at the Twin Cities Tournament in Powell. The Minors portion of the tournament will be held in Cody.
The Major team plays twice on Friday, beginning at 11 a.m. versus Sheridan, and then against Riverton at 5 p.m. Powell plays at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. again Saturday, first against Cody, then against North Big Horn.
The Twin Cities Tournament serves as a warm-up for district play, which will determine seeding going into the district tournament.
“Everything after the (Twin Cities) tournament applies to our ultimate goal of getting to the World Series,” Brown said.
The district tournament starts July 17 in Riverton. The top two teams in the district tournament advance to the state tournament in Laramie.
But while Brown and the team are looking forward to the games, others are looking at how the all-star team was formed.
In past years the team was chosen during a roundtable meeting between all the league’s coaches. Traditionally, the coach of the team that wins the league championship also coaches the all-star team.
This year, Brown and Queen drafted and decided to coach the all-star team prior to the conclusion of the league’s tournament, and without the presence of all the league’s coaches.
“I didn’t really feel like it was the way to do it,” said Dane Herd, coach of the A’s. “I feel like every coach should get together and pick it that way, like we have in the past.”
While the all-star team wasn’t drafted by a coaches’ consensus, every coach was given the chance to give input.
Brown and Queen each drafted a list of players separately, and then compared notes.
“The lists were virtually identical,” Brown said.
A third list was compiled and shown to the league’s other coaches.
“We showed them the list,” Brown said. “If we’re missing somebody we (wanted) to know.”
Herd said he didn’t agree with the method taken to draft the team, but thought the team showcases Powell’s best young ballplayers.
“Ultimately, there wasn’t a single coach who didn’t feel we chose the best 12 players in the league,” Brown said.
Ben Jackson, head coach of the Little League Royals, said he had no problem with the way the all-star team was chosen.
“They came up with an initial list, brought it around to all the coaches and asked for other coaches’ opinions. That seems pretty straight-forward and forthcoming in my opinion,” Jackson said. “I was 1000 percent satisfied with the manner in which the team was chosen.”
Brown said it’s the job of the all-star coaches to pick the players that give Powell the best chance to succeed.
“We have a responsibility to those players and the parents of those players to at least try to put together a team we can win with,” he said.
Disappointment and arguments come with the territory of all-star selections, Brown said, and the reasons for disappointment can vary greatly.
“I don’t think I’ve ever not heard from (parents and coaches about all-stars),” Brown said. “I’m looking at all of those parents and all of those kids and inevitably someone’s not going to be happy.
“We did things a little bit different this season. It can only be 12 players; someone’s going to go home disappointed.”
Brown said he understands that some parents and coaches “go to bat” for their children and players but he has to maintain objective to field the most competitive team.
“This is one of the most difficult things I have to do.”