MC out to change history
LEHIGHTON — You would think after winning the national championship, there would be no more challenges left for the Mifflin County Babe Ruth 14-year-old all-stars.
The first one comes in the Pennsylvania 14-year-old state tournament.
Last summer, Mifflin County went 17-1 in the post season to capture the national title at the 13-year-old level.
Mifflin County was the third Pennsylvania 13-year-old team to win it all. The other two teams were Levittown in 2002 and Broomall-Newtown in 2014.
Neither of those teams repeated as state champs. Levittown was knocked off in the state semifinals by Mifflin County in 2003 in Phoenixville. In 2015, Broomall fell to West End of Williamsport in the state finals in Williamsport.
Mifflin County will start its defense of the national crown on Friday at 5 p.m. against Valley of Hazleton.
The other three pool games will be played at 5 p.m. Saturday against Council Rock (District 3), at 5 p.m. Sunday against Broomall-Newtown (District 1) and at 2 p.m. Monday against Altoona.
The semifinals are set for Tuesday and the final is Wednesday. The winner advances to the Mid-Atantic Regional in Trenton, N.J.
Managing the Mifflin County team will be Justin Yoder of McVeytown. Yoder will be assisted by Ryan Rupert, also of McVeytown, and Dan Hassinger of Milroy.
Four players were named to the team from league champion McVeytown: Colby Bodtorf, Teagan Eddinger, Cole Knable and Brian Yetter.
Second place Strodes Mills produced three players in Connor Cherry, Jaxson Pupo and Cole Schlegel. Belleville also placed three on the team: Casey Conners, Ethan Eichhorn and Marshall Maidens.
Burnham added two, Bryce Dobson and Brando Souders. Rounding out the team are Milroy’s Brycen Hassinger, Beaver Springs’ Hunter Wolfley and Lewistown’s Gage Schaeffer.
Wolfley, Eddinger and Knable are first time all-stars.
All three of members of the coaching staff have had expereince in the dugouts or on the field in the Babe Ruth world.
Yoder goes into the state tournament with a 70-92 record, but is no stranger to all-star competion. He was a coach on the 2003 team that won the 14-year-old state title and went on to finish second in the Mid-Atlantic Regional. In 14 seasons, Yoder has managed or coached in 385 games (207-178). He is currently ranked 16th on the all-time win list (70 wins) and in games coached or managed he is 15th.
As a player, Yoder was on a state runner-up team as a 13-year-old in 1991 and Rupert was a member of the 1997 Mifflin County 14-15-year-old team that won a state championship. Dan Hassinger won the league’s top pitching award in 1988.
“These kids are hard workers,” Yoder said. “I feel there is no pressure on us, but I have been impressed with our team speed.”
Yoder does have two players that won awards for the regular season. Yetter was the MVP and won the batting title. Cherry was named the league’s Outstanding Pitcher.
Mifflin County has a 5-4 record in Lehighton. In 1999 in the 13-year-old state tournament, Mifflin County fell to Drexel Hill in the state finals, while in 2009, the 14-year-olds finished in a tie for third.