Team aims for fifth consecutive championship in tourney
Published 6:45 pm Sunday, July 14, 2013
The Cal Ripken League of Michigan kicked off its state tournament this weekend and, along with it, the 12-year-old Howard All-Stars “Red” team’s quest to win a fifth consecutive championship.
If team members can complete the task, they will have played their entire youth careers without being dealt a loss on the state level.
“This team works very hard. They start hitting in January and really work on their skills almost year round. As we’ve been progressing over the years, our kids’ drive to win has gotten stronger. They really dedicate their time to getting better,” coach Chris Simpson said. “It’s really important to us that we finish this thing off the way we set out years ago.”
The team’s Saturday performance was nearly flawless as Howard rolled to three straight victories and secured a No. 1 seeding as round-robin play came to a close on Saturday evening. It picked up impressive wins over cross-town counterparts Brandywine, long distance travelers Alpena and their fellow league mates that comprised the Howard “Blue” team to finish the first round undefeated.
Its lone hiccup of the day came in the early stages of its game against Brandywine when Howard allowed four runs in the bottom of the third to fall behind 4-3. From that point on, they outscored Brandywine 11-3 over the remaining three innings to take a 15-6 victory.
Chad Barton and Eli Fruk each had home runs for their team. Fruk hit a blast to center that served as a backbreaker against Brandywine while Barton went yard twice against Alpena to help his team come out on top with a 13-3 win.