Braves claim USSSA state title
The Fort Leavenworth Braves entered the USSSA 14-and-under Class A Kansas State Baseball Tournament ranked No. 1 in the state.
They finished atop the rankings, too, thanks to a strong showing in the final day of the tournament at the Sports Zone fields July 15 in Topeka.
The first day of the tournament was rocky as the Braves went 0-2 in pool play. They dropped a 6-4 decision to Coffeyville and then fell to the Overland Park Express, 8-4.
After the stumble, the Braves regained their footing and began a strong march through the championship bracket.
The Braves started the day with a 15-6 victory over the Olathe Heat as starting pitcher Zak Haller threw four strong innings. Andrew Stoafer and Parker Gibson were solid in relief. The offense also provided plenty of support by pounding out 15 hits.
After knocking off the Heat, the Braves squared off with the Kansas Crush in the state semifinals. Matthew Stratton tossed a complete game for the Braves. He used his fastball, off-speed pitches and breaking ball to keep the Crush hitters off balance while striking out nine. The offense backed him up with a barrage of hits as the Braves rolled to a 7-2 victory.
Parker Gibson took the mound for the Braves in the finals against the Mill Valley Champions. Gibson threw a complete game and the Braves captured the state title with a 7-4 victory.
The championship capped a season where the Braves played about 50 games and competed in more than 10 tournaments ranging from Class A ball to the Major level. The squad consists of players from Lansing, Leavenworth and Fort Leavenworth and is coached by men from each city. Jim Stratton represents Lansing, Mike Haller represents Leavenworth and Larry Stoafer represents Fort Leavenworth.
The Braves are looking for more players to participate in the fall, spring and summer. Those interested should contact Jim Stratton at Jim.A.Stratton@us.army.mil.