No haircut this time

Published 8:40pm Saturday, June 15, 2013

Windsor Longhorns repeat their championship

The Windsor Longhorns Pinto team won the championship last year with the promise that its coach, Travis Luter, would get his hair cut into a mohawk. The Longhorns brought back seven players from that team, and they did not require any such incentive this time, winning the league championship 12-7 last Wednesday against the Smithfield Rockhounds.

Entering this season, those seven 8-year olds, who would be playing their final year of coach-pitch Pinto-level ball, started talking about another championship.

Tim Butler of the Windsor Longhorns hauls in a fly ball during the team's 12-7 Pinto championship game win against the Smithfield Rockhounds last Wednesday. Butler's hat had fallen off just prior to the play, and he unwittingly created panic among fans when he appeared to be searching for the ball after everyone thought he had caught it. He eventually threw the ball back to prove the catch and then went back to searching for his hat. (Garry Studer of VB Studios)
Tim Butler of the Windsor Longhorns hauls in a fly ball during the team’s 12-7 Pinto championship game win against the Smithfield Rockhounds last Wednesday. Butler’s hat had fallen off just prior to the play, and he unwittingly created panic among fans when he appeared to be searching for the ball after everyone thought he had caught it. He eventually threw the ball back to prove the catch and then went back to searching for his hat. (Garry Studer of VB Studios)

“Myself and the other coaches, we had a nice chat with them before the season started, and we said, ‘Hey, guys, it’s 0-0 and your championship reign is over, and you’ve got to go back and earn it,’ and those guys were just really excited to do that,” he said.

“I think that by the time they get to be the age they are, they sort of kind of find out, ‘Hey, I really want to play this game,’ and they get kind of serious about it,” Luter said. “They made it easy for me.”

The kids still enjoyed what Luter called “the best support system that I think any team around has got.”

Parents, aunts and uncles, grandparents, neighbors and fans of the boys flocked to games.

“You bring that kind of situation together, then you end up with one huge family, where everybody just really cheers on their kids, and when (the kids) stepped on that field and they look down the baseline and there’s a hundred parents and fans, they can feel that, and they get excited,” Luter said.

The boys’ discipline and development as players was apparent in the win-loss column. They went 12-1 in the regular season. In the double-elimination tournament, they avoided having to play through the losing bracket as they had in 2012, sweeping the competition this time around.

They defeated the Smithfield Rays 19-4 and the Smithfield Pirates 20-15. Then, they faced the only team to beat them this season, the Smithfield Rockhounds, and handed them a 12-9 loss.

The Rockhounds emerged from the losing bracket to face the Longhorns for the championship. They would have had to win a doubleheader to be champions, but Windsor ended it in one.

“We definitely avenged that one loss, no doubt,” Luter said.

In the title game, Carson Pierce got the first hit for Luter’s team and ended up going 3-for-3 with a double, three runs batted in and three runs scored for the game.

Lucas Casper was the team’s only 6-year old, and he went 3-for-3 with a double, three RBIs and three runs scored.

“We were halfway through the season before I realized he was supposed to be in T-ball,” Luter said.

Jackson Cofer hit two triples, had two RBIs and scored twice. Joey DeMatteo was 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored, and Keighgan Duncan hit twice, as well. Eli Sheppard, whom Luter described as tiny but scrappy, went 2-for-3.

On defense, many of the kids, including Parker Scott and Tim Butler caught fly balls, which Luter said is impressive at this age level.

In the sixth and final inning, the defense of third baseman Bryce Arrington sealed the game for the Longhorns. The Rockhounds had runners on second and third with no outs when Arrington caught a line drive and stepped on third base for a double play. The next batter hit to Cofer, who threw the runner out at first.

“They were looking like they might rally, and Bryce did a fantastic job turning that double play,” Luter said. “That really kind of broke their back.”

The boys again benefited from pitching by Luter’s brother, Mike.

“They go up this fall to kid pitch, to what’s called Mustang, so it’ll be a big adjustment for them, but they’ve got a nice little high to ride through fall ball, anyways,” Travis Luter said.

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