Sometimes in life, and in baseball, the journey is far greater than the result.
Sure, the Hawthorne Little League All Star team wanted to win the District III baseball tournament in Ely last week, but they weren’t able to do so. They finished the tournament 0-2, losing 8-0 to Ruby Mountain and 6-5 to White Pine.
But this was more than just about winning.
This was about a group of 13 friends getting to experience something that most baseball players in their town haven’t gotten to do in nearly a decade. It was about parents and coaches getting to watch their kids travel to a national tournament and compete at a higher level. And most importantly, it was about the kids creating memories that will last a lifetime.
“All Star baseball makes so many memories, and there were a lot of them made this week,” said Hawthorne Little League President Jason Cardenas. “Even though the outcome wasn’t what they wanted, they had an absolute blast.”
And boy were those memories made. When they weren’t competing on the field, the boys made the most of their time on the road. From water balloon fights to swimming, to just hanging at the motel with their buddies, they definitely got the most out of the experience. The Hawthorne squad even made quick friends with some of the other eight teams in the tournament, and played in a few friendly wiffle ball games beyond the outfield fence at the Ely baseball field.
“They were outstanding representatives of Hawthorne,” Cardenas said. “Our coaches, parents and I heard all weekend how nice they are and what great sports our kids were. They were very well liked.”
On the field they weren’t so bad either. After losing in the opening game to Ruby Mountain, they bounced back and pushed White Pine to the brink, tying the score at 5 in the top of the last inning. White Pine was able to answer with a run in the bottom of the inning however, and won the elimination game 6-5.
“We had a few nerves in the first game, but they competed great the whole tournament,” Cardenas said. “The coaches (Kyle Isom, Jeff Nelms and Tony Nelms) and I are very proud of them.”
Much of the credit goes to Cardenas for the kids to be able to compete on this type of stage again. He had a vision that one day Hawthorne would be back in the All Star mix when he took over the league in 2009. The town hadn’t sent a team to the district tournament in nearly a decade, so once everything fell into place and the timing was right, he jumped at the opportunity.
“When I started doing this five years ago, that was my goal,” he said. “This year was one of our most successful seasons in the league, we had a great turnout. Watching the kids play all year, I felt we had a great chance to send a team. This needs to be an every year type of thing.”
“We couldn’t have done it without the support of the town though. The donations we received from the locals and the Kenny Bostic Memorial Youth Athletic Fund helped us out tremendously. We were able to pay for rooms and give the kids a food allowance each day we were there.”
Cardenas also received some news while meeting with the other league presidents in Ely; Hawthorne will be getting the chance to host next year’s district All Star tournament. In order to be eligible to host, your league must have at least competed in the tournament the previous year. And it just so happens that 2015 was Hawthorne’s turn in the rotation.
“We are so excited to host next year, it’s a great opportunity to showcase Hawthorne,” Cardenas said. “It will be really beneficial for the local economy with eight other teams, coaches and fans coming in and staying here. We want to make it a great event.”
But for now the 13 teammates from this year will be able to look back on their accomplishments from the season and really be proud. Seth Bozzi, Tony Dominguez, Damien Hernandez, Griffin Inman, Gavin Burroughs, Payton Isom, Tyler Blankenship, Jean Naranjo, Ethan Nelms, Alex Palacios, Elijah Schulenberg, Tony Torres and Treven Wachsmuth were part of a group that brought baseball back to Hawthorne on a state level, and made some lifelong memories along the way.
And really, that is what matters the most.