By Rob Tetro
It was a memorable spring and summer for Fulton Little League Baseball.
For the first time in its 12 year history, Fulton Little League Baseball sent two of its teams to the State Championships in the same year.
Consisting of players from Fulton, Hannibal and Phoenix, both the Intermediate and Senior All Star Teams qualified for the State Championships and came away with 3rd-place finishes.
The Intermediate Team consisted of boys 12 years old to 13 years old that featured local Modified and Junior Varsity Baseball Players. The Intermediate Team was managed by Randy Cotton. Assisting Cotton were Larry King and Dave Ding.
The Senior Team was comprised of boys ages 15 and 16 that featured local Junior Varsity and Varsity Baseball Players. The Senior Team was managed by Dave Webber. Assisting Webber were Fulton varsity baseball coach Kip Harvey and Joe LaBeef.
Both All-Star Teams were part of the Fulton Little League Teams. Interestingly enough, both teams played All-Star Teams in the State Championships that comprised of teams that combined players from three different teams from that particular area.
In some cases, there was a talent gap between the Intermediate and Senior Teams and other All-Star Teams. However, both teams proved to be tough to beat because they were more cohesive compared to the other teams.
To advance to the State Championships, both teams won the District 8 All-Star Championship. The Intermediate Team punched its ticket to the State Championship with a win over Canastota.
Both teams had a similar path to success. They both lost the first games of their District 8 All-Star Tournaments. However, each team proved to be primed and ready to win the remaining games to advance to the State Championships.
Senior Team Manager Dave Webber said both teams recognized the opportunity they had before them. “They played with pride and character,” Webber said. “They did what they had to do when they had to do it.”
Like the District 8 All-Star Championships, each team began the State Championships by losing its first game as well. However, also like The District 8 All-Star Championships, both teams battled back. The teams responded with two wins in the State Championships before losing to the eventual champions in the semifinals.
Webber points out the keys to each teams’ success were chemistry, camaraderie and cohesiveness. “Both teams benefited from having the opportunity to play with each other for a few years,” Webber said.
Looking ahead, the future seems bright for the respective programs that will be featuring these players. Next year, Webber expects to see the majority of the Intermediate Team to be playing on junior varsity baseball teams. He also feels the majority of the Senior Team will be on varsity teams next year.
Webber suggests these players will bring a winning mentality to each level. Perhaps the best quality that each team had was that they didn’t just win but they refused to accept that the odds may be against them.