Cardinal pride: High-scoring BC Juniors highlight league-wide success

Published 11:42 pm Friday, July 22, 2016

BRIDGE CITY — The quick turnaround was well worth it.
By 11:30 p.m. Tuesday at Faulkner Field in Tyler, Bridge City Little League’s Junior League team lost on its first attempt to win the Texas East state championship. The winner-take-all game between the Cardinals and West University of Houston began at 10 the next morning.
Coming off a heartbreaking 12-10 loss, the two teams went 10 innings — three more than regulation — to determine the champion. Cade Brown finally pushed BC through with a two-out, bases-loaded single for a 13-12 win.
Now, the 13- and 14-year-olds are going where only one other baseball and two softball teams in BCLL have been — a regional tournament.
“It’s a blast,” pitcher Kent Michael said of the experience.
The Cardinals are entering the Junior League Southwest Regional, which begins Aug. 5 in Rio Rancho, N.M., on a hot streak offensively. They’re averaging 15 runs per game and have not scored fewer than double digits since beginning their run in the sectional tournament against Houston-area teams.
“The kids just got hot at the right time, and everybody’s seeing the ball,” manager Todd Yadon said. “It’s putting the pressure on the other teams, for sure. Everybody’s hitting 1 through 9, and our subs are hitting as well.”
Centerfielder Logan Hamm played a big role with three home runs in the state tournament. Yadon said Hamm hit the first homer on that field in a Junior League tournament in four years.
Michael (pronounced “Michelle”), who pitched the three extra innings for Bridge City, said he’s never been on a team that’s as balanced in the lineup and on the pitching staff as this one.
“We just hit the ball,” he said. “We’re so effective.”
Said Hamm: “We just have big hitters who hit in the gaps and are really fast on the bases and score runs.”
Junior League is an older-age league under the umbrella of Little League Inc. It’s one age group higher than the Majors, who can advance all the way to the nationally televised Little League World Series in Pennsylvania.
The only other BCLL baseball team to reach a regional was the 2009 12-year-olds. The 2011 Junior softball team finished third in their World Series.
Now, the Cardinal Juniors seek a spot in their own World Series in Taylor, Mich.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Yadon said. “We started this [Junior] program six years ago. This was a Babe Ruth field, and they closed it down six or seven years ago. We bought it and chartered it under Little League.”

The overall success of BCLL is an uplifting story for a league that is rallying around its president, Wayne Cole, who is in a tough battle with cancer.
“Wayne’s been involved in the program for 30-plus years from coaching his kids to grandkids to being on the board,” BCLL acting president Cody Corkran said. “Wayne’s been on this board a long time.”
The Juniors’ regional berth has highlighted a particularly strong year for BCLL, which had six clubs — the baseball 10-year-olds, Majors and Juniors and softball 10s, Juniors and Seniors — compete in state tournaments. Port Neches’ 11-year-olds also played in state.
“It definitely speaks to the quality of coaching and the talent of the kids we have in Bridge City,” said Corkran, the coach of his daughter’s BCLL 10-year-old team. “We more than double in size the next closest Little League as far as the number of kids in the program.”

I.C. Murrell: 721-2435. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

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About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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