Every year is important for the development of youth athletes, but for baseball players, the 12U season holds special significance.
Twelve-year-olds play their final season of baseball on youth-sized fields before moving up to standard-sized diamonds as 13U’s, and many 12U teams make a rite-of-passage trek to the site of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, where hundreds of 12U teams from around North America descend on the birthplace of baseball for the annual Cooperstown Dreams Park tournaments.
The Lake Shore 12U Gray Sox made the most of their all-important summer.
Lake Shore went 34-16 overall this summer and claimed tournament championships at the Upper Chesapeake and Lake Shore Boys of Summer tournaments, the only two tournaments that were completed after several other tournaments were partially or totally rained out.
The Gray Sox also represented Pasadena as one of 104 teams in Cooperstown, going 6-1 in the tournament and reaching the round of 16 before falling to a 12U team from Kansas City.
The team of Noah Bowerman, Carter Drab, Kyle Emmons, Ty Jacoby, Blake Jarmer, William McCarthy, Brayden Marrocco, Cole Parsons, Drew Sabban, Luke Sanborn and Austin Sealing journeyed through its season with purpose and commitment.
“I couldn’t be any prouder of this team,” said head coach Randy Emmons, who coached the 12U Gray Sox with assistant coaches Jason Sealing, Jeff Helsel and Bill McCarthy. “They came right out of the gate beginning in our January workouts, and I could see there was a different level of commitment coming from these young men. The greatest thing about this team is the way the boys contributed as collective unit. Our season was truly defined by just an unselfish, next-man-up attitude.”
The highlights for the Gray Sox were many. They successfully defended their 2017 11U Upper Chesapeake tournament championship and protected home turf as champion hosts of the Lake Shore Boys of Summer Tournament.
In Cooperstown, they made teams from far and wide aware of the deep baseball talent from Pasadena, Maryland. In six victories and one loss, they combined for 18 home runs and 92 RBIs, with Drab smacking five homers and leading the team in RBIs along with Sealing and Emmons. McCarthy and Jarmer combined to pitch a shutout, and Drab hurled another shutout.
Kyle Emmons won the Golden Arm skills competition, in which players must hit a target at home plate from center field, topping a field of 104 participants and becoming the first Lake Shore player ever to win the contest in Cooperstown.
Coach Emmons said the team made huge strides both as individual baseball players and as a team.
“Overall the team improved nearly 15 percent from the previous year in almost major statistical category. It was a lot of fun to watch,” said Emmons. “Baseball is all about peaking at the right time, and our guys did a tremendous job ending the season with a bang.”
He added that the support of the families around the boys played a huge role in Lake Shore’s success.
“The players, parents and families we had in our corner are all second to none,” said Emmons, “and for that I am truly blessed.”