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Squirrels seek World Series bid

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cody Rice of the Charleston Fighting Squirrels slides into third base in a game earlier this season. The Squirrels will be vying for a spot in the Senior Babe Ruth World Series when they take part in the Midwest Plains Regional beginning Friday in Wellington, Kan. David Jenkins, staff
SIKESTON -- It will be their fourth consecutive trip to the Senior Babe Ruth Midwest Plains Regional baseball tournament and the Charleston Fighting Squirrels feel they will not be in for any surprises.

"We know what to expect," Squirrels general manager Michael Minner said. "We're not going to be shocked by anything this year and we know a lot about these teams and we feel like when we get there we'll be a step ahead of the competition."

As a staple in this tournament the past four seasons, the Squirrels will be looking for their second World Series birth in Wellington, Kan. over the weekend with their first game scheduled for Friday at 2:30 p.m. against the No. 2 team out of Kansas.

The only difference facing the Squirrels will be that they will not be the representing Missouri state champions this time around. The Jackson Senior Babe Ruth squad took that title away from the Squirrels this year as they too will be heading to Wellington.

Minner believes that there will be no effect on his squad after losing the state tournament.

"The effect happened last weekend," he said. "Now, your just one of the teams competing in the Regional. We feel like we didn't play as good as we could have or should have last weekend and we just hope we do this weekend."

The pitching staff that Minner has comprised over the past few years has been one of the main contributors to their Regional success. This year will be no different as James Naile leads the pitching staff of Brandon Peters, Sam Johnson and newly acquired Andrew Dooley.

Minner has no doubts that his pitching staff will do what they do best this weekend, but wouldn't mind a bit more of an offensive output from his club.

"We've built our team around pitching the past couple of years and during last year's Regional, we pitched it about as well as you could but we just couldn't hit it," said Minner. "I'm not opposed to winning 9-8. That's something I'd definitely like to see in our arsenal. But, if we pitch it the way we can, play defense the way we should and come up with timely hits we should be fine."

Whether they are the No. 2 team from Missouri or the representing state champions, the Squirrels have had one goal and one goal only -- win a Senior Babe Ruth World Series.

"Our ultimate goal every year is to win a World Series and those hopes are still alive," Minner said. "We belong out here and we think that we have as good of a shot as anybody."

It will also be the first time that Charleston will not be the only representative from Missouri. Something that they have expressed over the years with new uniforms which meant dispatching the Fighting Squirrels mascot for the time being.

Maybe sticking with their roots this time around will help out in the long run.

"This year we're just going as the Charleston Fighting Squirrels," Minner said. "Teams know who we are and we're still one of the teams to beat out here. That's one of the things we've marked ourselves on.

"We expect nothing less than a trip to Newark, Ohio."

Midwest Plains Regional Schedule

Friday, July 23

Game 1 - noon - North Dakota vs. Minnesota

Game 2 - 2:30 p.m. - Charleston vs. Kansas

Game 3 - 5 p.m. - Iowa vs. Jackson

Game 4 - 8 p.m. - Colorado vs. Host (Wellington, KS)

Saturday, July 24

Game 5 - 12:30 p.m. - Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2

Game 6 - 3 p.m. - Loser Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4

Game 7 - 5:30 p.m. - Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2

Game 8 - 8 p.m. - Winner Game 3 vs. Winner Game 4

Sunday, July 25

Game 9 - 12:30 p.m. - Loser Game 8 vs. Winner Game 5

Game 10 - 3 p.m. - Loser Game 7 vs. Winner Game 6

Game 11 - 5:30 p.m. - Winner Game 7 vs. Winner Game 8

Game 12 - 8 p.m. - Winner Game 9 vs. Winner Game 10

Monday, July 26

Game 13 - 1 p.m. - Loser Game 11 vs. Winner Game 12

Game 14 - 3 p.m. - Winner Game 11 vs. Winner Game 13

Tuesday, July 27

Game 15 (if needed) - 11 a.m. - Winner Game 14 vs. Loser Game 14 (if 1st loss)