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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

Sikeston softballer leads Texas team to national championship

Monday, July 17, 2006

Ron Baker of Sikeston
SIKESTON -- Sikeston's Ron Baker played a major role in leading the Texas Stars to the 2006 Amateur Softball Association (ASA) Men's 50-and-Over Fast Pitch National Championship earlier this month in Prescott, Ariz.

Baker's stellar performance earned him first-team All-American honors as an outfielder. He won the tournament batting championship, going a torrid 15-

for-21 -- a .714 average -- with 11 RBIs, one triple, four doubles and eight runs scored.

"It was a great atmosphere in Arizona and a great team to play with," said Baker.

For Baker, it was his third high finish in a national tournament. He played for the Decatur Legends, which captured a championship in 1999 and a runner-

up finish in 2000.

The Texas Stars, based in Houston, Texas, advanced out of the loser's bracket to claim its first ASA National Championship since 2003.

They opened the tournament at Bill Vallely Field by blanking Buck's Bombers of Thomson, Ill., 15-0, then defeated Savala Painting of Colorado Springs, Colo., 8-1, in the second round.

Then came a 12-8 loss to Tulsa Gray Sox in the quarterfinals, knocking the Stars into the loser's bracket.

After a quarterfinal loss to the Gray Sox, the Stars needed to win five straight for the title.

Early the next day, an 11-0 victory over United Sports Academy of Stockton, Calif., kickstarted the Stars' championship run. Next up, they slipped past Nohren Farms of Champaign, Ill., 6-4.

The Memphis Po-Men of Memphis, Tenn., a team familiar to area fans with their participation in the annual Kelso Klassic, was the last obstacle in the path of a rematch with the Gray Sox. The Stars handed the Po-Men a 9-1 loss to move into the championship round.

Now the Stars needed back-to-back wins against the undefeated Gray Sox, the only team to have beaten them in the tournament.

With Baker going 3-for-3 with three RBIs, the Stars opened a 4-0 first-inning lead en route to a 12-3 pounding of the Gray Sox to force an "if necessary" game.

In the final, Baker kept his hot stick with two more hits as the Stars romped to a 12-4 victory.

For the Stars, who finished with a 7-1 record, it was their third national championship in the past six years.

And the season's not over for Baker and the Stars, who will compete in the North American Fast Pitch Association (NAFA) World Series in Carson City, Nev., in September.