The Powell Storm 12U baseball team recently completed its inaugural season, compiling a 3-6-1 record — highlighted by an extra-inning tie against Lander to close out the schedule.
“We had a great group of kids,” said Storm head coach Derek Solberg. “We had great coaches, and everyone just seemed to gel. We also had a great group of parents to work with. Everyone working together to make it a success made the season that much easier.”
After his youngest son was asked to play on a 10U team, Solberg and his wife Judee came up with the idea of putting together a 12U team.
“We started making phone calls on a Friday, and by Sunday we had a full roster,” Solberg said. “We started scheduling a handful of games with Cody and Lovell. We had a doubleheader that got rained out against a Billings team, then we had that final Lovell tournament June 1 and 2.”
Solberg called the Storm a “club team.” Though it’s not technically affiliated with the Powell Recreation District, every player on the Storm roster playes rec league baseball, he added. The club games are for player development, and to help the kids prepare for rec league ball, Solberg said.
“The other three coaches on our Storm team also coach rec,” he said. “Everybody on the rec board pretty much gave me their blessing, and since the Storm coaches are also rec coaches, it was easy for us to coordinate pitch counts so we didn’t overuse anybody. It was just easy to make that transition from club games to rec games.”
The highlight of the season was an extra-inning 2-2 tie against Belgrade that was finished underneath the lights at the season-ending Lovell tournament. The Storm finished 1-1-1 at the tourney.
“Friday of that tournament, we beat a pretty solid Lander team 10-4,” Solberg said. “Because of weather, the first pitch of that Belgrade game was about 8 or 8:30 p.m.; it may have been even later than that. The game ended right at 11 p.m. under the lights.”
Calling the contest a “classic pitching duel,” Solberg said both teams played outstanding defense, helped in large part by a dominating performance on the mound by the Storm’s ace.
“Our pitcher Brock Johnson struck out 12 kids in six innings,” he said. “That Lander game and the Belgrade game were probably our two best games of the year — we played solid defense both games.”
Solberg told his team after the game that, even though it ended in a 2-2 tie, it’s games like this that are why you play baseball.
“I told them, ‘When you guys are my age, you’re still going to be talking about this game,’” he said. “It was just one of those special games where you tell the kids that you’re glad you were a part of it.”
Solberg and his staff are already looking toward next season with seven players from this season’s roster eligible to return next season.
“We’re going to lose some great 12-year-olds; they were a great group of kids,” Solberg said. “We’ll be a different team, but we’ll definitely be able to field a good team. Getting through this first year, I’ve learned so much, so hopefully things will be a little bit more efficient on my end. We’ve already talked to some younger kids, so our roster may be full already.”