The Student News Site of Shorewood High School

Shorewood Ripples

The Student News Site of Shorewood High School

Shorewood Ripples

The Student News Site of Shorewood High School

Shorewood Ripples

Shorewood Little League represents Wisconsin

The Shorewood Little League U12 All-Stars concluded their season by making baseball history. After winning the District tournament, the team advanced to State, securing another victory. This qualified them for the Midwest regional, a first time achievement for Shorewood. 

The regional tournament, held in Indianapolis, proved to be an exciting challenge for the team. 

“I think it was a really great experience and one that they’ll continue to value as they play high school sports, collegiate sports, or even professional sports down the line if they’re fortunate enough to,” said Tommy Vollman, head coach of the All-Stars. “Having that experience as an 11 or 12 year old is fantastic.”

The team started the tournament off with a 5-2 win against Webb City, Missouri, an exciting moment for the players and Vollman.

“The team they played from Missouri has a long history of representing Missouri at that regional tournament,” Vollman said. “The kids were aware of that, they read things online, and what I was really proud of was that they really stayed within themselves, they played their game and were able to gather a victory.”

According to Mason Birkel, a pitcher for the All-Stars, the initial win helped the team build momentum for the next challenges coming their way.

“After winning our first game we were definitely excited and knew we had to keep going,” Birkel said. “It was really nice achieving that.”

After a 16-2 loss to Fargo, North Dakota, the All-Stars didn’t give up, continuing on to play Iowa for their final game. 

“It’s kind of a bittersweet memory, that final game against Iowa,” Vollman said. “It was very close, and they lost 2-0, but they were never out of the game.”

According to Vollman, the game against Iowa exemplified the traits he and his fellow coaches strive to bring out in their players.

“As I went to say something or encourage someone, a teammate would encourage that individual and almost take the words out of my mouth,” Vollman said. 

Wesley Strohbusch, an outfielder and first-baseman, felt the All-Stars as teammates were set apart from the other teams playing.

“We just had much more chemistry and more passion for playing baseball than most of the other teams,” Strohbusch said. “Regionals was a really fun experience for our whole team because we got to stay in a hotel with just our teammates, and went for team walks in the morning and just did a ton of stuff [together.] It helped with our team bonding.”

According to Vollman, the dedication of both the community and players was key in the journey to regionals, with everything from fundraising efforts to ESPN watch parties in order to drum up support for the team.

“One thing that became apparent was that it’s a time commitment and a monetary commitment from families and individuals,” Vollman said. “The community did a really nice job of rallying around us.”

While at state, the team became aware of the unique privileges that afforded them this experience.

“There was actually one team out of the State tournament that wasn’t able to participate just because they weren’t able to drum up numbers and the financial commitment relative to traveling to Wausau,” Vollman said. “It was interesting to see these 11 and 12 year olds starting to recognize equity and opportunity.”

Along with playing baseball at regionals, the players got a glimpse of life in the spotlight.

“The regional tournaments across the nation are really kind of training exercises for these athletes getting a chance to learn how to talk to media, how to conduct themselves in an environment where they’re not necessarily supervised by their parents,” Vollman said. “I mean they were wearing their Shorewood All-Star uniforms, but when they were shown on ESPN, they were representing Wisconsin.”

Vollman relayed the skills he believes will stay with the players now that the season has concluded.

“We talk a lot about transferable skills,” Vollman said. “In the state semifinal, there were actually two outs and two strikes, and they were losing the game and ended up coming back to win, so that was just a real testament to their fortitude and that refusal to give up.”