MORRIS — The Morris 12U Tomahawks baseball team finished its season recently with a strong finish at tournament in Cooperstown, New York, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The Tomahawks went 5-1 in pool play at the tournament and finished in the top 16 in bracket play at the 104-team event. However, even that finish fails to tell the full story of the Tomahawks' history.
Tomahaks coach Garrett Wheeler said that six of the 10 plaeyrs on the team began playing in an 8-under league when they were seven years old. The current edition of the team featured eight players from Morris, one from Minooka and one from Wilmington, making them more locally-oriented than most travel teams they encountered in tournaments.
At the Cooperstown tourney, the Tomahawks opened pool play with a 13-11 loss to the CFL Bandits out of Florida before hitting their stride and winning the rest of their pool play games. They defeated the Georgia Bombers (GA), 14-2, Conejo Crush (CA), 19-6, Colleville Elite (TX, 17-10, Big Katy (OH) 18-4, and Karnersville Bulldogs (NC), 17-7 to finish the pool play round seeded 19th out of 104 entering bracket play.
The Tomahawks began tournament play against the Tinley Park Bulldogs (IL), a game they win, 21-4. They then beat the Metropolis Red Capes (FL), 4-1 before losing to the Tallahassee Tomahawks, 13-1, in the round of 16 to end their tournament action with a 7-2 record and their season with a 42-13-2 mark.
During the Cooperstown tournament Jack Wheeler and Payton Sterritt each hit seven home runs to power the Tomahawk offens. Home run leaders for the season were Griffin Zweeres with 21 and Wheeler with 18. Also in the Cooperstown tourney, Colin Pfeifer pitched a complete game in the 4-1 win over Metropolis Red Capes (FL), and he was the team leader in innings pitched for the season.
"These kids played a lot of baseball," Wheeler said. "Seven or eight games in a tournament add up quickly."
Wheeler said that this is the last season that the team will be together as it is currently constructed.
"They are at the age when baseball changes and so are some of their interests," he said. "Some are moving into eighth grade, some are in seventh grade and they will want to stay with their own grade, with the pitcher's mound changing distances. But, they were together longer than most teams.
"I have gotten to the point where I can't do much more with them. I am not a full-time baseball coach. It's time for them to play for someone who can get them to that next level, if that's what they want to do."
Wheeler also noted that the team enjoyed the experience of playing in Cooperstown.
"The teams and coaches stayed in barracks," he said. "When they toured and visited the Hall of Fame, it was with their families, and that was fun for them. Cooperstown is a great, quaint little town. Their downtown is not much different than Morris. There are 22 fields on 150 acres. There were 104 teams with 10-15 players on a team and most of their parents, but it didn't feel like it. They do a good job of keeping that small-town fieel to the town and not over-commercializing it.
"It was a great experience for the kids and they seemed to have a great time.."