SIKESTON -- First National Bank won the Junior Babe Ruth championship this year, finishing with a record of 10-2.
"We were solid all the way around," said First National coach Terry Schaefer. "The parents and stuff were great throughout the year. This was really one of my better years."
First National pulled through in crunch time and found a way to win all season. Of the team's 10 wins, five came by two runs or less.
"It was a matter of hitting the ball at the right time," explained Schaefer. "When it came to the last inning, we were fortunate to have a couple of 15-year-old pitchers that were able to close it out for us."
First National used 13-year-old pitchers Zack Culver and Strick Green in the first part of the season. A little later, the squad worked more with Chris Carnell, Bryce Wibbenmeyer and Martin Schaefer.
Eric Burton played first base most of the time. Jason Hoyer was at second, Wibbenmeyer was at short and Julian Johnson was on third.
Schaefer and Carnell were the team's catchers. The outfield consisted of Tyler Kinder in left, Logan Haines in center and Adam Launius in right. Sam Rains III was a utility player.
A whopping eight players were selected for the all-star team. Culver, Green and Carnell all made the 13-year-old all-star team. Kinder, Burton, Hoyer, Schaefer and Wibbenmeyer were all selected for the 15-year-old all-star squad.
"A lot of times when you win first place in a season, people get a pretty good look at your kids," said Schaefer. "They see them at different places, and I think that helps a lot when it comes to picking all-stars."
Along with a great draft, Schaefer credits a great coaching staff for his team's success.
"My co-coach Justin Wibbenmeyer is like 21 years old," said Schaefer. "I think his rapport with the kids and his baseball ability was a big help. It is nice to have a coach that can actually get out there on the field and play with the boys. He really brought out a lot in them."
First National was seeded No. 1 in the year-end tournament, but was eliminated in the first round by US Bank. For various reasons, First National played the game without three of its regular players.
Market Place went on to win the year-end tournament championship.
Members of the 2002 First National Bank team in the Junior Babe Ruth League of Sikeston Area Youth Baseball are Martin Schaefer, Tyler Kinder, Logan Haines, Zack Culver, Strick Green, Chris Carnell, Julian Johnson, Sam Rains III, Bryce Wibbenmeyer, Adam Launius, Eric Barton and Jason Hoyer. The team was coached by Terry Schaefer, Justin Wibbenmeyer and Kevin Culver.