For the third year in a row, Greater Sealy Little League will be represented at the Section 1 Tournament by a group of now-13- and 14-year-old athletes in search of a state crown.
The Junior Division team from Sealy started out its District 13 Tournament on Tuesday of last week with a 16-1 win over Hempstead to get out on the right foot. The Tigers followed that up with an 11-5 decision over La Grange to clinch a spot in the championship game without a loss to their credit in the double-elimination bracket.
Bellville took advantage of that two-loss allowance as after a first-round loss to La Grange, 6-4, the Brahmas came back to beat Hempstead, 14-4, before earning redemption and eliminating La Grange by a 15-5 score, sending them to the title game albeit with their backs against the wall.
Sealy and Bellville combined for 56 runs scored across both teams’ pair of wins and it only made sense the high-scoring rivals would converge with the District 13 title hanging in the balance. The championship game was slated for Friday night with a possible redemption game set for the following evening if the Brahmas were able to hand the Tigers their first loss of the tournament.
Sealy, however, was able to get the job done by an 8-3 score, clinching the third district championship in a row for this group.
“Those 13-year-olds have won their district tournament as 11-, 12- and now as 13-year-olds so three years in a row, that’s a pretty unique thing that hasn’t been done in Sealy probably ever before,” said Ryan Reichardt, facilities director for Greater Sealy Little League.
On top of that, Reichardt added, that bunch of athletes also secured the crown as 7-year-olds making this their fourth over the last seven years, “which is an accomplishment considering who we’re competing against,” he said.
“Little League does it by geography so ever since I was 10 years old we’ve had to play against Washington County that’s been a common thing for everybody,” Reichardt said. “If we played as Austin County and we combined Bellville and Sealy and pulled kids from Brazos, it would be a whole different ballgame on the talent level of the pool you pick from.”
“Anytime any of the teams like Sealy, or Columbus, or even Bellville, have success against the Washington County’s, or La Grange’s, or the Burleson County’s, that’s a pretty big deal because you are competing against (the best around),” he included.
Reichardt also mentioned that for a long time, the team from the neighboring county held a monopoly on the District 13 crowns, at all levels of play.
“There will be years that go by that Washington County will win every division,” Reichardt said. “About five or 10 years ago that’s how it used to be and Sealy has somewhat changed the tide in that.”
That flipping of the script was started last year and that momentum was carried into this year and Reichardt could tell things are looking good in Tiger town.
“We had a lot of success up and down (this year), the 7-year-olds played for the district championship and lost and that was coming off of last year which was our most successful year as far as All-Stars are concerned,” he said. “We had a team that played for the championship in every divisional championship except for the 10-year-old tournament.”
“This year was not as successful compared to last year because our 7’s finished in the top two, they went into the district championship undefeated and Burleson County beat them twice, the 8-year-olds finished third, the 9’s also finished third, the 10’s finished fourth, the 11’s finished third, we did not have a team in the 11-12 tournament and then the 13-year-olds won their tournament so everybody was still pretty much a top-three, top-four team going in,” Reichardt said.
That high level of competition with quality teams around the area makes for a bright future for baseball in Sealy and that is, of course, the ultimate goal of Greater Sealy Little League.
“It’s good for our kids, that’s the thing that makes us a lot stronger, when our kids get to high school, well here all this time they’ve been competing against everybody whereas Brenham has to go play with the big boys,” Reichardt said.
“We sure hope (we’re breeding the next generation of Sealy varsity baseball players), you’d think that those guys that pitched and played against some of the elite players in the area (are prepared) so when they come down and start playing the sport of baseball they’re not overwhelmed that’s for sure,” he said. “They’ve seen it all, they’ve seen what good pitching looks like and they’ve hit off that and they’ve had to compete against them so it sure helps them out.”
Coupling the success is the participation numbers which are also ever important.
“Between boys and girls I think we have a little over 400 kids participating that’s all the way up to Juniors in Sealy so that’s a lot of kids getting involved and getting a lot of exposure,” said Reichardt. “When you break them up in All-Stars you’ll have a roster anywhere from 10 to 13 kids per age group so it’s a neat experience for them to go compete against everybody out of town and you get to wear Sealy across the front of the jersey and your last name on the back of your jersey and it’s a totally different experience than just playing regular league ball.”