Leader & Times staff report
The Cimarrron River Rattler baseball teams traveled to Dodge City over the weekend for th Dodge City Cowboy Challenge. Two Liberal teams advanced to the championship of the 10-and-under division, and the 12-year-old team took first. The 11s went 3-1 and claimed third.
The youngest team of Rattlers, the 9-year-olds, had to face older competition at the tournament and different rules. They had to learn how to play with lead-offs which is not allowed in the 9-year-old division.
But the nines held their own to advance to the championship game.
Every player in the line-up had at least two hits over the weekend and all players had at least one RBI.
Brody Sumner, Braxton Hyde, and Hunter Carson combined to strike out 47 batters and only walked seven batters in 20 innings over the weekend.
“I told the boys they will not be in a more intense game than the Championship game against our 10s this year,” Brandon Hyde, coach of the 9-year-olds, said. “That game will really help us later this summer in District and hopefully State Tournament play.”
The nines actually had a 13-9 lead over their 10-year-old counterparts in the championship game heading in to the bottom of the sixth, but the 10s rallied for the 14-13 win.
“I have not been prouder of a group of boys than I was Sunday,” Hyde said. “To come out and beat a 10-year-old Barton team that had won their own tournament the week before and then play their hearts out against our 10s was great to see.”
The Rattler nines beat Goodlands 10s, 11-0 and then defeated the Southwest Hitters, 14-2. The Rattler 9s then faced the Barton Bulldogs 10s and won 9-5. That set up the all-Liberal final with the 10s winning 14-13.
“This group of boys are always positive and never get down, they just battle and battle,” Hyde said. “They step on the field ready to play.”
The Cimarron River 9 Rattlers will head to Pratt to play in a 10-and-under tournament Saturday and Sunday.
The Cimarron River Rattlers are young baseball players in and around Liberal. The tams represent the local community in the district and state tournaments.