BELLS — The Howe Bulldogs 10U 2017 All-Star Team took home a victory and two losses in the Dixie Grayson Youth Baseball All-Star Tournament over the weekend. The Bulldogs started the series strong with a 16-6 win over Whitesboro on Friday before falling 11-0 to the All-Star team from Bells and enduring a 12-7 loss against Pottsboro on Saturday and Sunday respectively. The parents, coaches and the rest of the Bulldogs’ supporters gathered in the sweltering North Texas heat to support the kids who are the Howe Youth Summer baseball program.
The Howe Bulldogs 10U All-Star team played area rivals with players assembled from all three of the Bulldog 10U teams representing Howe in the Dixie Grayson Youth Baseball league and their proud supporters braved the heat and humidity through three rounds of playoffs. While many may not pursue the sport all the way to the professional level, there are many on these teams who just may well bring home championship titles for Howe High School in the years to come.
“It was a huge learning curve and they stepped it up,” Bulldog All-Star team head coach Monte Walker said.
The young athletes involved in the Dixie Grayson League are no different than the century-spanning generations of Americans who have defined their childhood with the pride that comes with hitting a home run for the little league victory or the character building losses that teach young people how to see defeat as nothing more than a personal challenge to improve.
“The kids had a good time, especially that first win,” Walker said. “We had some kids step up, we had some good pitching and good defense.”
During the regular summer season Walker coached one of the three Howe teams to win against many area rivals to earn the top overall rank for among the Howe teams.
“We finished first out of the three teams from Howe,” Walker said.
The classic American little league baseball tradition has roots as far back as the 1700s, but the first instance of modern little league baseball in the United States begun in the early 1920s and has remained a beloved childhood experience for many well into the current age.
Despite the tournament’s outcome, the Bulldogs charged out of the pen and shined in their victory over Whitesboro on the first day of the competetion.
“Pitchers were great; Mahlon Walker threw an 18-pitch shutout inning for the save.” Walker said, “Will Ingram and Parker Daniels were workhorses on the mound.”
Daniels played a pivotal role on the pitcher’s mound, doing his part to earn the victory for Howe. Daniels gave up three runs, two hits, one walk and threw five strike outs over the course of the final two innings against Whitesboro.
Walker spoke of how this particular league presents a unique situation from a player and coach perspective as the games become more competitive in nature.
“It’s starting to look like real baseball, now we are starting to learn the intricacies of the game,” Walker said.
The victory over Whitesboro was achieved in great part by the Bulldogs’ pitchers. Walker said the young athletes’s performances in the all-star games were a “dramatic improvement from the beginning of the season.”
Ingram, the starting pitcher in the first round of the tournament for the Bulldog 10U All-Stars, gave up three runs, no hits and three strikeouts in one inning of play against Whitesboro.
“Mahlon, David Grant and Ethan Mayo each drove in two rounds to lead Bulldogs to the victory,” Walker said. “Now we’re starting to learn the intricacies of the game.”
The importance of little league is not lost upon those volunteers who drive the Dixie Grayson 10U league and the many young athletes under 14 across the country. The young players learn much about the sport from experiencing an increase in the level of competition and learning when it comes to playing baseball.
“(There is) a transition period from when they are little kids to when they are teens,” Walker said. “The attention span is a little bit better, the baseball is a lot better.”
The young athletes will not be cooling their heels for too long as the end of one sports season simply means the beginning of the next for the true Texas athlete.
“We went from baseball on Sunday night to 7 on 7 football on Tuesday night,” Walker said.
Walker will next take up the mantle of head coach for the Howe Youth Sports football team for the same age group.
“We will be coaching football, fifth and sixth grade,” Walker continued. “We will be looking for our third super bowl championship with this group.”
The Howe Bulldogs youth football team will be playing 7 on 7 football on Tuesday nights in Bells for the month of July.