BASEBALL: Port Neches Little Leaguers ‘believe’ in path to Williamsport

Published 8:05 pm Friday, June 29, 2018

PORT NECHES — Chase Johnson and Gavin Bodin hung out with their teammates and watched some older kids’ dreams play out on one of baseball’s most hallowed fields.

The college guys who played the past two weeks in Omaha, Nebraska, set an example for the Port Neches Little League 12-year-olds.

“They have a great impact on all of us,” said Johnson, a third baseman and pitcher. “We like to go to Buffalo Wild Wings and watch all the games and stick together. We want to be like them and everything.”

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Chase Johnson of PNLL on the desire to reach the state tournament and continue a path toward Williamsport:

Johnson and his friends do have similar dreams. They want to be on ESPN playing on another big stage real soon.

They’ve just taken the first step, winning the District 32 championship. Three more steps, and they’ll be in the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Port Neches’ team believes in it so much, each player wears a practice jersey with the word “believe” on it.

“That’s our word,” PN coach Bobby Chiasson said. “We believe in ourselves. We believe in the family. We believe in each other.”

Port Neches’ next step is Jasper for the Texas East Section 2 tournament, scheduled for July 7-11. The winner advances to the Texas East state tournament for a spot in the Southwest Regional, the last stage before the Little League World Series.

But sectionals in Texas are no piece of cake, Chiasson believes. His team dropped two games to Beaumont West End in last year’s 11-year-old final.

“Baseball didn’t go our way that day,” he said. “I think this team, if they continue to play with the focus they had at district and play the way we did at districts, we’ve got a really good shot.”

Gavin Bodin of PNLL on how big winning the district title is:

The Section 2 tournament will include either West End or Lumberton as the District 12 champion, Channelview and Spring Northwest 45.

No one has set these future PNG Indians back. They’re 4-0 and haven’t looked back since coming from a 6-0 deficit to beat district host Bridge City 8-6 in the first game.

Bodin, a center fielder, catcher and pitcher, smashed a two-run home run over the outfield lights to finish the comeback.

“It gave us a lot of confidence and helped us to get that win,” Bodin said about the comeback. “We couldn’t get a lot of hits in the first inning, and when we started getting those hits, it helped us out in the next game.”

Port Neches then beat Bridge City 11-1 in the final round Tuesday. Bodin, a centerfielder and catcher, pitched that victory.

“We just like to believe in our team, and we have a strong bond between our team,” Johnson said. “We’re a family. We just like to believe in each other.”

The verb on their practice jerseys is just one of their common sayings. The other poses an important question only they can answer:

“Why not us?” Chiasson said. “One team makes it to Williamsport. Why not us?”

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

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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