Janesville 11-year-olds mesh for tournament time
JANESVILLE—Janesville’s Youth Sports Complex is the perfect place to host tournament baseball or softball.
The complex has six baseball fields, four lighted softball fields, concessions and the financial support of several area businesses.
The only thing missing, other than additional parking and lighting for the baseball fields, is a trophy case.
At the rate Janesville keeps piling up Cal Ripken state baseball titles, a new storage shed might be necessary to handle all the hardware.
Janesville won three more state titles last week. The 11U team won the state title with an 8-1 win over Cross Plains last Sunday.
The 13U team followed that up by winning the Cal Ripken Babe Ruth state title Tuesday with a 16-1 win over Eau Claire.
Janesville’s 14U team capped off a stellar week for Janesville youth baseball with a 9-0 win Wednesday over Eau Claire and the city’s third state title in four days.
All three teams will compete in a Ohio Valley Regional play beginning this week. The 11U team and 13U teams both play in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. The 14U team plays in Henderson, Kentucky.
Janesville’s 12U (46x60) finished second at state and also advanced to the Ohio Valley Regional where it plays in Crown Point, Indiana, later this week.
Here’s a look at the 11U state championship team. Previews on the 13U and 14U teams will be in Wednesday’s edition of The Gazette.
Unlike the star-studded 13U and 14U teams, the 11U’s state title was a pleasant surprise.
The team went 4-12 during the summer before the start of the Cal Ripken tournament series but has been playing at another level since then.
Head coach Doug Coulter said winning a state title was not on the radar when the season began.
“It was a matter of these kids buying into what me and Tony Coulter (assistant coach) were trying to teach them, and giving them confidence to go out and play the game the right way,” Coulter said.
“It has been a progression for these kids, but one that has been so rewarding from a coaching standpoint. We had so many errors and mental mistakes our first couple of games this season, but last weekend at state, we might’ve had three or four errors the whole tournament. That’s how far they’ve come.”
The team had five hits in three games in a tournament in Mauston in early July, but banged out 31 in three games in winning state.
Either right-hander Jake Coulter or Evan Jackson will start the Ohio Valley Regional opener.
Isaac Stried is the team’s catcher, while Connor Joyce anchors the infield at first base.
Nolan Larson is the catalyst in the outfield.
Doug Coulter is not making any prediction for his team at the regional tournament, but he does say the trip is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
“This is one of those groups you can never count out,” Coulter said. “We fell behind in our first game at state and in the championship game and came back both times.
“Tony has done a great job with the infielders, and our hitting, which was poor earlier in the season, has really come around. From where this team was, to be playing in the Ohio Valley Regional is pretty special.”