For a group of eight-year-olds who haven't played as a team, two top-three finishes and an appearance in the HapDumont Baseball World Series is something special.
The Tornadoes, an 8-U Douglas County Amateur Baseball Assn. All-Star team, started playing together at the end of the first week of July, when the DCABA tournament ended. Success came quickly for the team.
"I expected the success because from past experiences I saw how quickly a talented group of kids can come together and play as a team," Coach Stan Skwarlo said. "I am amazed with this group, they are good group of kids, good teammates."
The team started its success with a three-way tie for first, which earned them a third-place finish by points at a tournament in Ottawa. Then two weeks ago, the Tornadoes took second at the state tournament in Haysville, which qualified them for the Hap Dumont Baseball World Series in Oklahoma City this past week.
Tournament play is something new for the kids, and playing with boys who were their opponents during the regular season took some adjustment.
"Playing together didn't come naturally, but because of the nature of tournament play we have had the opportunity to do stuff together," Skwarlo said. "With the time we spend we can't help but bond."
The team is made up of 13 kids who represent each of the 8-U DCABA teams. Skwarlo and his assistants selected the boys based on a tryout that consisted of basic skills test. A few alternates are also on the roster.
"The number one thing during the tryouts was attitude," Skwarlo said. "Kids that have good attitude and want to be out there hustling. We also looked for basic baseball skills, because we can take the basics and build on them."
The kids learned the pacing of tournament play, which Skwarlo said has helped in their success.
At press time the Tornadoes had begun bracket play in Oklahoma City with the third seed. In pool play the team went 1-3. The team lost a game, then won a game decisively, and then lost a heartbreaker by one run to a team from Arkansas.
Coach Skwarlo expected his team to fare well in bracket play.
"There is good baseball in Lawrence, so I am confident that we can hold our own against any opponent," he said.
The tournament concluded today and ended the summer season for the 8-U All-Star team.