12-year-olds take district title

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Boys sweep tournament, head to state in Lexington

By Todd Martin

Shelby County’s 12-year-old Cal Ripken League All-Star Tam capped off an improbable 3-0 run to the District Championship in Frankfort Saturday.

“We shocked the world,” Coach Mike Dugle said. “The team really put it all together and played two of the best games they’ve played in the last four years. I’ve been around this group for four years, and they just came together and peaked at the right time.”

Shelby County opened the tournament Wednesday with an 11-5 whipping of Henry County.

On Thursday, the team slipped past Frankfort, 3-2.

“E.J. Burk pitched an excellent game for us in that one,” Dugle said.

That set up a rematch with Frankfort on Saturday.

Trailing, 4-3, with two runners on and two outs, Mitchell Clifton made sure Shelby County didn’t have to play Frankfort twice.

Clifton’s two-run double put Shelby on top for good, and the team held on to win the championship, 8-5.

Kyler Dugle won his second game of the tournament, recording seven strikeouts in the title game.

Clifton’s hit came as no surprise. He had been hot the entire tournament, finishing with a .600 average. Burk was also 6-for-10, and both Hunter Perry and Mark Sorrells hit .500 for the tournament.

“Hitting is contagious, and once we got a couple hits together it just spread,” Coach Dugle said. “Than and we got excellent pitching throughout.”

Dugle also made note of the team’s defense.

“All three games we fielded consistently,” he said. “That’s something I hadn’t seen from this team through a couple of scrimmages we had earlier this year.”

The fact that Shelby County upset both Frankfort and Scott County during the district is something that Dugle said he’d remind his team during the State Tournament this week at Shillito Park in Lexington.

“I think that’s a theme we’re going to try to carry on – that rally the underdog theme. It’s so much about motivation, if that continues to pump them up, that’s great,” Dugle said.

Shelby County was in the state’s opening game Tuesday, and it won, the team would play Friday at 7 p.m. A loss meant a game Thursday at 7 p.m.

Dugle said he’s not setting expectations for his team. However, he doesn’t want them satisfied either.

“We’re excited to be going [to state],” he said. “Making it this far is a good accomplishment, but we don’t want to be complacent. I don’t have a good feel for the competition, but we know it’s going to be very good. We just have to go out with confidence and play like we have been.”

And that rally through the district has left the team full of confidence.

“You can see it,” Dugle said of their newfound swagger. “A couple of wins and big hits produce a lot of energy in 15 kids and the coaches.”