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Shelby County’s 15-year-old all-star team went into the Babe Ruth League District Tournament in Frankfort last Wednesday with a bit of a disadvantage. The squad didn’t have enough 15-year-olds to fill the roster, so half the players on the team were only 14.
However, Coach Dave Neison said after a dozen or so practices the team came together and gave an impressive performance nonetheless, battling through the losers’ bracket to finish second in the tournament.
Their nemesis was a strong Frankfort team.
Frankfort beat Shelby in the first game Wednesday, 6-1, sending them into the losers’ bracket early.
“The kids played very well but started off sluggishly. We fell behind to a deficit we couldn’t come back from,” Neison said.
Despite the loss, the game provided one highlight that Neison said those who witnessed it certainly wouldn’t forget.
Frankfort’s first baseman cracked a long fly ball that was making its way toward the wall deep into center field, when Shelby center fielder Austin Anderson leaped and stretched out horizontal to make a stunning over-the-shoulder catch.
“The Frankfort coach and entire team kept talking about it throughout the tournament,” Neison said. “That will be a moment Austin will remember for the rest of his life.”
Anderson was active all over the field. He also led the team in on-base percentage. He went 4-for-8 and was walked 6 times.
“He was on the base almost every time he got up,” Neison said.
Anderson's play contributed to the team’s strong efforts as the boys came back to eliminate Henry Co., 9-4, and Scott County, 6-1.
“We had four pitchers: Brett Neison, Donte Minnis, Tyler Eaves, and Dan Sanders. They all pitched extremely well. They all have great pitching careers ahead of them,” he said.
After beating Scott County, the boys earned a rematch against Frankfort in the finals on Saturday but lost again, 9-3.
“Our kids really played very well, but we were sort of overwhelmed by that Frankfort team,” he said. “They’re very strong. In the middle of the game we had a lull, and they took advantage and scored two or three runs. Sanders and Neison both pitched well, but that team just hit the ball well.”
Overall, Coach Neison said he is proud of the way his team played in the tournament, and he thinks that pitching crew has the potential to really impress as they get older.
“They played very, very well,” he said. “They all have a future ahead of them from a pitching standpoint, wherever that may be.”