By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes
The Keizer 10U Celtics had a history-making season this summer that ended with a state title in competition Sunday, July 13.
The Celts beat Lebanon 5-1 in Hillsboro for the state championship, capping a 35-0 record against JBO 10U National teams and a 37-5 overall record. Pitchers Eric Olsen and Logan Ready shared duties on the mound and threw a no-hitter in four innings against Lebanon. Olsen struck out six batters, walked five and allowed one earned run.
The Keizer team leapt out to a 3-0 start in the final game that included an RBI-single by Isaac Scroggins and a sacrifice fly by Jackson Alt. Gunner Smedema led the team at the plate going 2 for 2 with an RBI and a run scored. He singled in the first and third innings, the latter plated Jake Paton. Scroggins helped Smedema round the bases on a single.
The Celts finished the state tournament with a 4-0 record.
While the team saw much success during the season, it started off on shakier ground said Kyle Hughes, Celtic head coach.
“We traveled to Redmond for an open tournament in May where we would play four teams above our level. Our boys lost those four games but learned about what it was going to take to be better as individuals and as a team,” he said.
Hard work and a family atmosphere that included supportive parents helped the team thrive despite adversity, but the players’ attitudes were cemented in mid-June at a tournament in Reedville.
“We were tied 4-4 in the bottom of the last inning and with two outs and two runners on when 8-year-old Gage Smedema hit a double to win the game and the tournament. It was one of his few hits of the entire season. After that moment, the entire team believed we could win any game no matter what was up against us,” Hughes said.
In addition to the state title, the Celtics brought home first place tournament trophies from the Banks Invite, Reedville Invite and Aloha Invite. They were also Valley District champions with an 11-0 record.
Devin Burruss, Blake Felbob, Jake Hudson, Easton Hughes and Riley Mahoney rounded out the roster this season. Kyle Hughes was head coach of the team, Dave Ready, Matt Mahoney, Matt Paton and Mike Smedema served as assistant coaches.