The Mission Valley 12-U baseball team found itself pitted against top-level teams in the Cal Ripken 12-U Western Regionals last week in Meridan, Idaho.
The 12-U Mariners competed and finished their four-game series with a 1-3 record.
The M’s, whom captured the 12-U state of Montana Cal Ripken baseball title, struggled to sustain their established momentum playing against some of the best talents the region had to offer.
M’s manager Chris Atkinson said he was proud of his team’s effort, as he knows it was a good experience for players who have future aspirations of becoming members of the senior Mission Valley Mariners squad in the future.
“In the four games, they could have gone 3-1 very easily,” Atkinson said. “The level of experience (they got to face in regionals) was a good experience for them.”
“The exposure the Mission Valley Mariners received to some of the best teams in the region should help them in the future,” Atkinson said. “They will only become better as they prepare to play American Legion baseball.”
The kids, who will all become 13-year-olds next season, have gained valuable experiences as they continue to progress in their careers, Atkinson said.
“The kids all want to be Mission Valley Mariners, and that is what they want to be,” Atkinson said. “Hopefully we can get players that are talented enough, and play together long enough that will fundamentally feed into our older program. The teams we played were pretty solid, and (our kids) got to watch a lot of good baseball. The teams in this competition were all solid fundamentally, and all the way around to thinking about pre-pitch. They were just ready to go, knowing what their job was and what they were supposed to do.”
Atkinson was impressed by the Mission Valley Mariners 12-U team’s level of consistency.
“I don’t think (our team) has improved that much since the beginning of the season,” Atkinson said. “Our team has always been there. I think we came together, and they started figuring out exactly how to make stuff work as a team.”
Atkinson said he hopes there is a trickle-down effect from some of the younger teams who aspire to have the success their 12-U counterparts did this season.
The 10-U and 11-U both hope to continue the teams traditions as they move up through the different levels of youth baseball.
The future of Mission Valley baseball is looking bright with both the senior Mariners, and the 12-U Mariners qualifying for their respective state tournaments.
Atkinson said he felt the success of the two teams will have a trickle-down affect for the younger baseball players trying to improve.
“I hope the 12-U’s success rubs off, and they continue the tradition of having a winning attitude and a competitive drive (in the future),” Atkinson said.