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The end of a big year for Sellwood Junior Baseball

by: Courtesy of Verna Leong Shown are players with both the Midget American [foreground] and Senior Federal division teams, both of which placed second in their respective state tournaments July 28-31 at Pacific University in Forest Grove.

Sellwood Junior Baseball recently completed a banner year, with about 450 kids playing on approximately 35 teams, and with two teams placing second in the state.

The 2011 season culminated with the Midget American division and the uppermost Senior Federal division teams earning second-place trophies.

The state runner-up teams weren't the only ones to make it to the county or state tournament level!

After an exciting victory over Lake Oswego to get into the eight-team Clackamas County tournament, Coach Kit Kryger's Senior American squad played two more games and tied for seventh place in the county.

The Sellwood Junior Federal team, coached by Rick Rutherford, placed fourth in county and tied for fifth place in the Junior Baseball state tournament in Canby.

Coach John Matterazzio's Midget National team took home the first-place trophy at county. The team played some stiffer competition at the state tournament, but still placed third in the field that assembled in Aloha. The Midget American and Senior Federal state tournaments took place at Pacific University in Forest Grove July 28-31.

The Sellwood Smash, coached by Glen Hoffinger, really lived up to its name. The Smash took home the first-place trophy at the Midget American county tournament, and narrowly missed taking first at state. The Smash lost to Banks 8-6 in the final at Sherman/Larkins Stadium.

Besides taking second place, the Midget American team took home the Sportsmanship Trophy - only the second time for any Sellwood team at state.

Hoffinger said he wasn't surprised that this group won the sportsmanship award. In his talk to the players after the championship game, he told them, 'We have stressed respect from the beginning. You guys took this to heart. You didn't just talk respect, but showed it out on the field, and this trophy proves it.'

Smash player Chase Hoffinger pitched three innings of the five-inning final. Hoffinger said he 'felt the pressure', but just kept throwing pitches he knew how to throw - mostly fastballs.

'It was very fun playing on the Sellwood Smash,' Chase Hoffinger smiled. 'Everybody was a great player. We never gave up in games, and that's what got us the wins.'

Noa Bothe, another team member, was catcher for part of the championship game and believed the team always kept a positive attitude. 'We were so happy to make it to state,' he exclaimed. 'We are a great team.'

The Smash went 41-6 for the season, and became the first Sellwood Midget American team ever to make it to the state tournament.

About 50 feet away from Sherman/Larkins Stadium, the Sellwood Senior Federal team battled for the state championship in their division at Pacific's Chuck Bafaro Stadium. It was another first for Sellwood Junior Baseball - having a Senior Federal crew reach the finals.

After finishing fourth in the county tournament, the team - coached by Dan Floyd - had to win a play-in game just to get to state. Sellwood beat Westview, and later that weekend defeated No. 1-seeded West Linn, McMinnville, and Sherwood.

Sellwood needed to beat West Linn one more time to earn the state title, but the team lost twice to West Linn, 3-1 and 5-4, in the championship round.

Michael Duarte, an eighth-grade Sellwood team member, reflected that it was an amazing year. 'We were underdogs the whole time, and ended up reaching the state championship game. It was fun being an experienced player and leading and helping others.'

Floyd said he was 'extremely proud of Sellwood Junior Baseball, and the parents and kids who make up this fine organization. The SJB community should be proud of the people in the best youth baseball program in Oregon. The success of these two teams is due to everyone in the community.'

Floyd said he will look back fondly on his years with Sellwood Junior Baseball. He was recently named the Head Varsity Baseball Coach for Central Catholic High School, replacing Kevin Cave, who stepped down to attend law school at the University of Oregon after guiding the Rams to second place in the Class 6A state tournament.

Children can start playing in the Sellwood league when they are as young as 5, for T-ball; and they continue throughout their elementary and middle-school years. Registration for the 2012 season is expected to take place in January. For more information, go online to: www.sellwoodbaseball.com .