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Rossville 10U All-Stars claim District title

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BARNES: Rossville All-Star Eli Barnes pitches in the middle innings of his team’s district championship game over Kokomo UCT.
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DISTRICT CHAMPS: The Rossville 10U All-Stars pose for photos with their trophies after beating Kokomo UCT, 12-10, to capture the Town and Country District III title.
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McKINNEY: Rossville All-Star Kai McKinney watches for the pitch during Monday’s championship game.
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SLIDE: Kai McKinney slides to second base during the Rossville All-Stars district championship game.

By AARON KENNEDY - akennedy@ftimes.com

The Rossville All-Stars rallied late to beat Kokomo UCT and capture the title at the Town and Country 10-and-under District III Championship on Monday evening at Fowler.

Kokomo UCT jumped out to the early lead by scoring four runs in the top of the first inning, but Rossville tacked on three runs of their own on in the bottom of the opening frame thanks in part to an RBI ground-rule double by Brody Skinner. Cayden Skinner then tied it at 4-4 by driving Owen Marcus across the plate in the bottom of the second inning.

Still tied at 4-4 to begin the third inning, Kokomo scored three runs to retake the lead. Rossville later trailed 10-6 in the bottom of the fourth inning when Cayden Skinner drew a walk and advanced to second base on a passed ball before scoring on a nice bunt laid down by leadoff hitter Ashton Abbott to trim the deficit back to three runs at 10-7.

After walking the first batter of the fifth inning, the Rossville All-Stars got three stellar defense plays in a row to deny Kokomo and then broke though in the bottom of the inning, highlighted by Owen Marcus’ go-ahead, two-run double and Cayden Skinner’s RBI double to set the final score at 12-10.

“I told them that back in May or maybe even in early June, I think they would have folded,” Rossville head coach Brad McGriff said. “We have come a long way, and they have really matured with their baseball IQ. I think it was a good testament of how far we have come. These kids have battled, and they deserve every bit of this.”

Zac Wainscott, who came in to finishing the game on the mound for Rossville after good inning pitched by Josiah Refiert and Eli Barnes, struck out the first two Kokomo batters of the top of the sixth and final inning before getting the third to pop out to right field, sealing the win.

“We have come so far with pitching,” McGriff said. “Last year, we had maybe one or two pitchers. This year, we are five or six deep. The hard work from the winter time has paid off. We really got in the gym and focused on some of the little things to help us get through this.”

McGriff was very pleased with the job his Rossville All-Stars did at the plate versus Kokomo UCT and how his young team did not discouraged despite trailing much of the game.

“We always say ‘next one.’ It doesn’t matter if you strike out. When you go up there the next time, we are up there to hit,” he said. “That is the name of the game. One of the hardest things to do in baseball is hit the ball. They have put in a lot of time and effort. We come out here before games and usually do some kind of soft toss, or we are in the (batting) cage. And it shows.”

McGriff believes that his team may be the first from Rossville to win a district championship in about eight years.

“I want to say that (the last ones to do it) are seniors at Rossville now,” he said. “So, maybe 2010 was the last time that I have seen a district championship or runner-up for Rossville.”

The Rossville All-Stars reached the championship game after consecutive wins over West Lebanon, Frankfort and Flora.

With the district championship now under their collective belts, the Rossville10U All-Stars prepare for their 6 p.m. Friday the 13th game as a No. 1 seed in the semi-state tournament at Flora.

“We are going to enjoy this one and then get back to work and focus on what is next,” McGriff said. “We don’t want to overlook because last year we were a fifth-seed coming out of the district, and we ended up going to the state as a third seed. So, anybody can do it. You can’t overlook a four- or five-seed team.”


At Fowler

Town and Country District III Championship


Kokomo 403 300 - 10

Rossville 312 15x - 12