All-Stars prepare for big step

Posted 7/30/09

“The town's response has just been awesome to this,” said All-Stars coach Pudge Fagan, who has had to spearhead a whirlwind fundraising effort this week to help offset the estimated $18,000 cost of Powell's first regional appearance in …

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All-Stars prepare for big step


{gallery}07_30_09/carwash{/gallery} Powell Babe Ruth All-Star members (from left) Jordan Gonnoud, Frankie Vogt (partially hidden), Corey Elton, Cooper Wise, Justin Lynn and Garrett Czapla wash a Powell Police Department cruiser to fulfill a condition of a $100 donation to the team from the department. The team will hold a Dinner at the Diamond barbecue fundraiser and silent auction tonight (Thursday) at the Babe Ruth field, beginning at 6 p.m.Tribune photo by Toby Bonner Kids, coaches excited to represent Powell in pacific northwestWith the shock of a state championship still washing over them, the members of the Powell Babe Ruth All-Stars are preparing for an even bigger stage as they make final preparations for the Pacific Northwest regional tournament.

“The town's response has just been awesome to this,” said All-Stars coach Pudge Fagan, who has had to spearhead a whirlwind fundraising effort this week to help offset the estimated $18,000 cost of Powell's first regional appearance in 44 years. “Not only that, but it has become a Big Horn Basin sort of thing. Cody is helping us out because they realize that this is something special.”

Special is an adjective that many are using these days to describe the situation. Players, coaches, fans and parents alike are trying to take in the magnitude of the moment.

“It's pretty exciting,” 15-year-old center fielder Garrett Czapla said. “It's definitely something special. It's hard to say what it's going to feel like once we get there. We'll have to play our A-game.”

“The ones I feel best for are the kids,” said Fagan. “They've dedicated a lot of time, and these last three weeks they've become good friends.”

Those bonds among teammates take only minutes to see standing around the team at practices. What's more, the kids themselves recognize that unity as one of their greatest assets.

“I think our sportsmanship and teamwork is what sets us apart,” notes outfielder Jordan Gonnoud. “I think it's awesome that we're doing this.”

Ask pitcher Seth Gilmore who he'd fear throwing to in a bases loaded situation and he'll finger teammate and fellow pitcher Cooper Wise. Wise, in turn, points the finger right back at Gilmore.

“I'm not sure Seth's struck out all season,” notes Olie Olson, another pitcher for the All-Stars who doesn't sound too keen about throwing to Gilmore with the bases juiced.

“Our teamwork is pretty good. We really communicate when we're out on the field,” notes third baseman and outfielder Gage Henderson.

The coaches concur with the kids' assessments.

“If you just looked at us physically at the state tournament, you'd probably have to say we were the underdogs,” notes coach Olie Olson. “There were two or three teams that probably looked bigger than we did, but we played together as a team. The kids played ball and won a state title.”

The week has been a whirlwind one for everyone involved. The team has done a lot of fundraising. Mother Nature disrupted practices early in the week with rain showers and lightning. Parents have juggled work schedules to accommodate a travel schedule that will see the team depart Saturday morning to begin the 14-hour trek westward.

“All 11 families of the kids are going to be there in Washington, so we should have a good presence,” said Fagan.

“For a small community, to have these kids repesenting Powell and Wyoming on a level like this, I'm just on cloud nine.”

The All-Stars will check in at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. The first night will feature an introduction of all 10 tournament teams and players, followed by a community barbecue for all competitors and coaches.

Powell opens regional tournament play on Monday, facing Ontario, Ore., in a 2 p.m. contest. The rest of the All-Stars' pool play schedule includes games against Calgary, Alberta, Canada (11 a.m., Tuesday), Centralia, Wash. (8 p.m., Wednesday) and South Coast, Ore. (2 p.m., Friday, Aug. 7). Next Thursday will be a rest day.

The top two teams in Powell's five-team pool will advance to semifinal play on Saturday, Aug. 8. There, they'll meet the top two teams from a pool comprised of Lewiston, Idaho, Cutbank, Mont., Hazeldell Metro, Wash., Chehalis, Wash. and Snohomish County, Wash.

The regional championship game will take place at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 8. The winner of the tournament qualifies for the Babe Ruth World Series.

“I think it'll be intense,” predicted third baseman Luke Wozney, the elder spokesman on the team at age 16. “We'll have to go play every game like it's the state championship.”

Regardless of the outcome of next week's games in Washington, the enthusiasm the event has created within both the kids and the community is likely to ensure Powell retains a case of baseball fever for some time.

“It's a huge positive for the program,” said coach Trevor Timmons. “It makes these kids want to keep playing and keep improving and go on to play Legion ball. It might make some of the younger kids want to play Babe Ruth ball when they reach this age. Maybe we'll have a fourth team next summer.”

Team notes

• The team will hold a Dinner at the Diamond fundraiser tonight (Thursday) starting at 6 p.m. The community is invited to come out, enjoy some barbecue and meet the members of the Powell All-Stars.

• A silent auction will also be held at the ball field as part of the barbecue event. Among the items available for bidding will be four Denver Broncos tickets to the team's preseason contest against Chicago, afghans, an autographed Chris Cooley jersey and a framed Steve Devenyns cattle print. Additional items are likely.