Eudora Sluggers bow to Baldwin in tourney
Two towns, whose high school teams have gone at one another for many years, got a little taste of familiarity on the softball diamond Saturday in De Soto.
And there was an emphasis on little.
The championship game of the Tri-County 10-and-younger girls softball tournament pitted a team from Eudora against a team from Baldwin.
The Eudora-3 team, which calls itself the Sluggers. met the Baldwin-3 team for the first-place trophy.
Both teams came into the double-elimination tournament with 9-0 records and hadn't played during the league's regular season because of inclement weather on their scheduled game night and subsequently the nights of the make-up game.
"We hadn't been able to play them all year," Sluggers coach Jim Jackson said. "We tried and tried, but the rain just kept it from happening."
Because the teams did not play during the season, the seeding for the tournament was decided by a coin flip. The Sluggers won the toss and were the No. 1 seed.
Unfortunately. the Sluggers found themselves on the short end of the "little" rivalry with a 6-5 defeat to the Baldwin squad in the championship round.
The game went into an extra inning, ending when the team from Baldwin scored the go-ahead run to break a 5-5 tie.
The Sluggers had a chance in their half of the inning, but came up short.
"We had a chance to tie the game," Jackson said. "We had a runner on third, but couldn't hit her in."
The Tri-County rules state that runs can only be scored on hits, and stealing home is not allowed.
But to get to that point, the Sluggers had to come the long way around.
The team started off the league tournament with two wins. A 13-1 win over De Soto-2 and a 9-3 defeat of Baldwin-2 set up the first meeting between the two teams that would meet later for the title.
The Baldwin-3 team quickly sent the Sluggers packing for the loser's bracket with an 8-1 defeat. The Sluggers bounced back in the loser's bracket with a 9-2 win over De Soto-2 to qualify for a rematch with Baldwin-3.
Despite the loss to perhaps some future high school rivals, the aim of the tournament, which was to learn and have fun, was met.
"They had a great time," Jackson said. "They're learning the game and having so much fun."
The Sluggers were one of three teams from Eudora that participated in the tournament, and the only one to make it out of the loser's bracket.
Eudora-1 was eliminated by Eudora-2 in the bracket. The Baldwin-1 team later eliminated the Eudora-2 squad.
The Eudora-3 team did not come away empty-handed as each member was presented a second-place trophy for its efforts.
"We had each of girls go out on the field and receive a trophy," Jackson said. "I think that they were all really thrilled with that."
The Sluggers can also be proud of a season that saw the team finish as co-champs of the Tri-County League with the very Baldwin team that eventually won the tournament.
The team also had a great year at the plate, outscoring the competition 154-45 over the span of the season.
"They're improving all of the time," Jackson said. "They really had a good time hitting the ball this year."
Jackson's squad also earned accolades, along with Baldwin-3, from the tournament's umpires.
"The umpires came up to us after the championship game and told us that they were really impressed with the way our teams played the game and were aware of what was going on," Jackson said. "As a coach, that really makes me feel good."
However as the trophies are surely being displayed in homes across Eudora, Jackson knows where all of the credit goes.
"Those girls really earned those trophies," he said. "I didn't do anything out there. The hardest thing I did was make up a line-up card."