Having to travel 600 miles to make a 2,800-mile flight, the Glacier 13-and-under All-Stars will easily be the best-traveled team at the Babe Ruth World Series which starts Saturday in Glen Allen, Va. Playing with the top 10 teams from around the United States, they’ll now try to see if they’re the best overall.
The 13U All-Stars are just the second team from Montana to qualify for the competition, the first in 31 years since, coincidentally, Glacier made the trip as a 13-15-year-old team in 1983.
Glacier, organized from the best players from the youth leagues of Columbia Falls, Whitefish and Bigfork, will represent the Pacific Northwest at the tournament after winning the regional in Helena earlier this month.
The All-Stars play a round robin in pool play, opening the tournament in the American division against Gainesville-Haymarket, Va., champions of the host state, in the late game on Sunday. They play Monday against Chandler-Mesa, Ariz., the Pacific Southwest champs; Tuesday against the Southeast regional champs from Greenville, N.C.; and Wednesday against Waterford, Conn., the New England champions.
The National division is made up of host team Glen Allen, Va.; Middle Atlantic champion Broomall-Newtown, Pa.; Southwest champion Eagle Pass, Texas; Ohio Valley champion Janesville, Wisc.; and Midwest Plains champ Booneville, Mo.
The top three teams from each of the two divisions, make the knockout rounds, played Aug. 21-22.
Glacier is confident, coming off a 5-4 come from behind victory in the regional championship against Lewiston, Idaho. Despite the first trip to the region for the majority of the team, they’re ready to compete against the country’s best.
“It’s going to be a dream come true,” Coby Clark said. “This is what our goal has been.”
Coach Mike McPhee said he noticed the talent the team had three years ago, though wasn’t able to see it realized until this year, the first they could form an all-star Babe Ruth squad.
“I knew when they hit 13 and combined the teams, they’d be a pretty talented group of kids,” McPhee said. “And they’ve proved me right.”
After forming the team earlier this summer, it took a few weeks for the team to get over their civic rivalries to jell as a unit. Once they did, they haven’t stopped winning.
“The first few weeks we weren’t blended yet,” Donnie Simms said. “We still had some work to do with chemistry and getting used to each other. When the Idaho tournament came we started getting it together.”
The team finished second at the Idaho tournament and has won three tournaments since, including the state and regional championships.
Many of the kids said they were looking forward to the trip itself, though the final goal wasn’t lost.
“I’m excited to see other teams, especially from the bigger states that have hundreds of kids try out for one all-star team,” Drew Morgan said.
“I’m excited to see how they pitch, see how wee hit against them. See if we can hit their stuff and see if we can stop it.”
Babe Ruth 13U World Series
Glen Allen, Va.
Glacier 13U All-Stars Schedule
All games broadcast on 95.9 FM
All times MDT
American Division Pool Play
5 p.m. — Glacier vs. Gainesville-Haymarket, Va. (Va. state champs)
2 p.m. — Chandler-Mesa, Ariz (Pacific Southwest champs) vs. Glacier
11 a.m. — Glacier vs. Greenville, N.C. (Southeast champs)
Wednesday, Aug. 20
8 a.m. — Waterford, Conn. (New England champs) vs. Glacier
Thursday, Aug. 21
3 p.m. — Third place National vs. Second place American
5:30 p.m. — Third place American vs. Second place National
Friday, Aug. 22
8 a.m. — 1st place National vs. quarterfinal winner
10:30 a.m. — 1st place American vs. quarterfinal winnner
5:30 p.m. — Championship gsme