Youth baseball team wins state tournament for second year in a row

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Members of the MFL MarMac Iowa USSSA State Championship were (front, left to right) Zach Driscoll, Quinn McGeough, Parker Kuehl, Kyle Tilson, Jacob Schellhorn, Kade Humble; (second row) Jaron Wille, Dustin Larson, Austin Schaller, Brayden Gordon, Ben Krambeer and Aiden Schoulte, along with coaches Paul Gordon and Jeremy Schellhorn. (Submitted photo)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

MFL MarMac’s 11U baseball team capped off its season in a big way, winning the Iowa USSSA (United States Specialty Sports Association) State Baseball Tournament, held the weekend of July 7 in Cedar Rapids.

2018 marks the second year in a row this group has won the competitive tournament. This time, however, they competed at the gold, rather than silver, level.

“It’s the same tournament,” said coach Jeremy Schellhorn, “but the competition is tougher.”

The Bulldog team, which includes many of the fifth grade boys, went 21-1 in regular season play this year. Their lone loss came to an older sixth grade team. They averaged 14.1 runs per game, while holding opponents to just .3 runs.

Those stats held up going into the USSSA tournament, as MFL MarMac defeated Marion 11-1 and Lin-Mar 15-0 in pool play to earn the top bracket seed. They rattled off four straight wins to claim the championship. 

Taking the title wasn’t easy, though. After committing just one error in the previous five games, the Bulldogs had six in the first two innings of the championship match-up, and found themselves down 8-0.

But the team stayed up-beat, said Schellhorn, thanks to a pep talk from fellow coach Paul Gordon and a “locked arm” mentality developed in practice.

“If our arms are locked, nobody can get through us,” Schellhorn explained. “That was our talk all weekend. Wherever you go, go as a team. They really bought into it and picked each other up.”

The Bulldogs ended up winning 19-11.

“It really shows the heart of the boys,” Schellhorn remarked. “They played extremely well, and I’m super proud of them.”

He noted it was also rewarding for the boys to compete against teams from much larger schools and communities.

“There were 4A and 5A schools. A lot of those teams are select teams, where you try out,” Schellhorn said. “This is our school team. It was awesome to go out there and beat those bigger teams.”

Although the team had a prolific offense, Schellhorn said he was most proud of the boys’ pitching and defense throughout the season. In fact, MFL MarMac finished the year as the top defensive team in the state.

“I focus on [defense], but they really buy into it,” Schellhorn said. “They like to play defense. It’s a pride thing; they don’t want guys to score.”

The team’s pitching and catching corps—Ben Krambeer, Zach Driscoll, Parker Kuehl, Jacob Schellhorn, Quinn McGeough and Brayden Gordon—will represent the Bulldogs at the state’s All Star Showcase, in Des Moines, on July 28.

The team, said Schellhorn, is naturally talented, not just in baseball, but a variety of sports. 

“They give everything they’ve got,” he shared. “They’re a good group, and coachable.”

Schellhorn also credits the players’ parents for allowing their kids to participate in a season that includes practices or games several nights each week, along with weekend tournaments. They buy into it, knowing it can help take the boys to the next level, he added.

Some, like Gordon, help coach and ready the field for play. Monica Larson kept the score book. Schellhorn’s wife, Megan, also helped with the score book and other tasks.

John Winter helped by umping nearly all the team’s games.

“There are a lot of people behind the scenes who do a lot of work,” he said.

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