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Southern Plains 11U All-Stars Entertain Fans through Three Tournaments

The 11U 70s division of the Babe Ruth organization is a tough division that teaches future high school players how to play the game right.  For an 11-year-old, the pitching rules and base distances make for a mighty big field for such young players.  However, this year’s Southern Plains 11U All-Star team managed to figure out how to play this game while keeping fans entertained throughout three tournaments including two invitationals in Garden City and the state tournament hosted by Southeast Denver.  Case Nelson from Eads was a solid performer from the mound for the Southern Plains 11U 70s All-Stars.  (Photo credit: Monica Uhland)

Head Coach Dayne Eaton did an excellent job finding games for this group as they prepared for the state tournament.  They would take on scrimmages against 12U teams from Syracuse and Eads before heading to Garden City a couple of weeks ago.  Eaton explained that the double header in mid-June, right after the all-star team was chosen, gave them a chance to start learning the ropes and gain some experience playing together.  It also gave the coaches the opportunity to see what positions the kids could handle.

This freshly formed team traveled to Garden City on June 23rd to play in the Jim Clanton Memorial Tournament.  These 11-year-olds would play in the 12U tournament bracket.  In the first game they took on an experienced Dodge City Sluggers team.  Case Nelson and Devin Eaton worked on the mound for Southern Plains.  They were paced at the plate by Zach Dickey, Devin Eaton, and Spencer Uhland with 2 hits each.  They ended up in an 8-8 tie.

In their second game of the day, the 11U group took on the Garden City Stampede.  This was a big team with some of their players standing near six feet and at least three were well over 200 pounds.  The little guys from Southern Plains competed against this team well but could not get the bats going enough to win.  After three innings of play they lost, 7-1.

The bracket play for the next day was cancelled due to two inches of rain.

The team then scrimmaged the Southern Plains 12U All-Star team on June 26th in Eads.  During that scrimmage the players got a lot of field time in different positions and a good number of reps at the plate.
Spencer Uhland throwing off the mound in the 11U 70s Colorado State Baseball Tournament in Southeast Denver. (Photo credit: Monica Uhland)
The 11’s then traveled back to Garden City on the weekend of June 30th to play in the annual Garden City Battle for Bases Tournament.  On early Saturday morning Southern Plains met up with perennial power the Liberal Rattlers.  This was their 16th tournament game. Case Nelson kept it close early going 3 innings and giving up 4 runs on 5 hits with 3 errors.  Zach Dickey came on to throw two innings, and Devin Eaton threw one inning. According to Eaton, “Liberal hit the ball really well and put up 10 runs while SP was able to get the bats hot and score 6 runs. It was a very competitive game highlighted by the fielding of Stockton Mitchek at short stop.”

In the second game on Saturday Southern Plains came up against the Morton County All-Stars. It was an evenly matched battle that see-sawed back and forth. Devin Eaton pitched well recording 5 strike outs.  The highlight of the game came in the bottom of the sixth inning with the score tied at 8. Zach Dickey was at third base when Spencer Uhland hit a walk off single to bring home the winning run. Southern Plains won 9-8.

On Sunday, the team headed into bracket play in the Garden City tournament.  The SP All-Stars faced a combined traveling team out of Holcomb and Garden City. Case Nelson was in control on the mound. Southern Plains’ defense fielded the hot ground balls as highlighted by a great catch in centerfield by Perry Chadwick. Adyn Hough seemed to be a ball magnet at second base making a number of strong plays. Southern Plains played very well but lost by a score of 7-4.

The final game of the weekend was against Ulysses. The sun was hot but so were the Southern Plains’ bats. Truman King provided excitement behind the plate as he threw out two base stealers.  Top hitters in this game were Devin Eaton with 3, Truman King with 3, Spencer Uhland with 2, Zach Dickey with 2, and Cael Nordyke with 2.

After two tough tournaments in Garden City, the coaches hoped the team would be ready to play in a highly competitive Colorado 11U 70s state tournament.  They traveled to Southeast Denver over the weekend.
 
In pool play on Thursday they were pitted against East Central. Southern Plains’ ace pitcher Case Nelson was on the mound. The first two innings were scoreless, but East Central capitalized on SP errors to put up 3 runs in the 3rd inning. With Nelson running close to the 40-pitch limit Devin Eaton came on to throw. Spencer Uhland closed the game on the bump.  The three baserunning errors really hurt the momentum of the SP All Stars.  Highlights of the game included Bryson States’ perfect bunt down the third base line and Devin Eaton's monster hit to the outfield fence scoring the only run. It was a much closer game than the 7-1 score would indicate. The WOW award was given to Devin Eaton for his diving catch in foul territory.
Zach Dickey gets a nice hit during state tournament play in Denver.  (Photo credit: Monica Uhland)
East Central then defeated the Pioneer team, 34-8.

In the final game of Thursday Southern Plains played Pioneer. Spencer Uhland started on the mound and did a fabulous job setting down 6 batters on strike outs.  The team hit the ball really well and recorded 5 stolen bases. Truman King had 3 hits, Devin Eaton, Adyn Hough, Perry Chadwick, Case Nelson, Spencer Uhland, and Zach Dickey all had 2 hits.  The game was shortened by two rain delays as the two teams would meet again at 8 the next morning. The WOW award was given to Truman King.

On Friday Southern Plains may have still been asleep at game time. Errors were many and Pioneer seemed to find their groove.  Truman King started pitching but was lifted in the first inning for Adyn Hough. A small strike zone was difficult for the SP pitchers as 10 walks were issued to Pioneer.  Following Adyn Hough was Cael Nordyke in an attempt to save pitchers for the championship game with East Central. Down 11-2 the ball seemed to be bouncing Poineer’s way until the 4th inning.  That’s when Southern Plains woke up and put 4 runs on the board.  Devin Eaton came on to pitch as the momentum had swung to Southern Plains defense as they had Pioneer go down in three batters. Then SP chalked 3 more runs in the fifth inning and Zach Dickey came on to shut the door from the mound. Pioneer only added 1 run after the 3rd inning and the score was 12-9 going in to the final at-bat.  Perry Chadwick was beaned, a walk was issued to Shane Winder, and a hit by Zach Dickey loaded the bases.   A single by Devin Eaton scored one. Truman King then hit a line drive and Devin Eaton got doubled off first base for two outs.

Southern Plains was still trailing 12-10 with the game in peril.  Spencer Uhland stroked a line-drive double down the first baseline to score one run. This left the score at 12-11 and Southern Plains sitting on two outs. Adyn Hough hit a line drive off the glove of the pitcher and hustled to be called safe at first. The hit moved Uhland to third. But it wouldn’t be, as Perry Chadwick closed the game with a hard grounder handled by the pitcher throwing it over to first for the final out.

"Best game of the tournament," stated Colorado State Babe Ruth Commissioner, David Hargrove. The WOW award winner was Case Nelson who went 3 for 3 at the plate.

East Central went on to defeat Pioneer 12-2 for the championship and now travels to Booneville, MO for the Midwest Regional Tournament to be held next weekend.

Coach Eaton was very impressed with his team, "These kids were down 9 runs and never quit. It was a day that the ball would not bounce our way, but we just kept pounding and almost made the comeback of the century!  It was definitely a memorable All-Star season.”

Southern Plains 11U All-Star team includes: (Front row l-r) Adyn Hough, Shaine Winder, Truman King, Stockton Mitchek, Bryson States (Middle row l-r) Perry Chadwick, Case Nelson, Cael Nordyke, Spencer Uhland, Devin Eaton (Back row) Coach Joe Chadwick and Coach Dayne Eaton. Missing Zach Dickey and Coach Devin Dickey (Photo credit: Monica Uhland)Southern Plains 11U All-Star team includes: (Front row l-r) Adyn Hough, Shaine Winder, Truman King, Stockton Mitchek, Bryson States (Middle row l-r) Perry Chadwick, Case Nelson, Cael Nordyke, Spencer Uhland, Devin Eaton (Back row) Coach Joe Chadwick and Coach Dayne Eaton. Missing Zach Dickey and Coach Devin Dickey (Photo credit: Monica Uhland)
 
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