Charles City 11U baseball team wins USSSA state title
By John Burbridge
It’s hard to argue against the mercy rule applied at the youth and high school levels in baseball and softball.
It spares the tedium of having to sit through overwhelmingly one-sided games for the full duration of innings allotted, as well as mitigating some of the humiliation for the side getting waxed.
Yet it doesn’t cater to the resiliency of budding athletes who are willing to fight to the very end.
When the Charles City 11U travel baseball team found itself down 7-0 in the first inning of its USSSA State Championship title game against Waverly this past weekend, it didn’t beg for mercy — though it was on pace to get it unasked for. Instead …
“We just told them ‘Don’t give up’,” said Casey Cajthaml, who coached the team with Ryan McInroy, “and they fought their butts off.”
Charles City managed to score 1 run in its half of the first to cut a little into the deficit, but still found itself trailing 9-3 through three innings in a game scheduled for six innings.
Charles City went on to score 7 unanswered runs on way to a 10-9 victory for the state title.
After going 5-0 during the two-day tournament held in Cedar Rapids, each CC 11U player was awarded a championship ring nearly the size of a piston head.
“I never won anything like this before,” said Casey’s son, Carter Cajthaml, the team’s catcher who was wearing his ring proudly several days after receiving it.
Though the season ended in glory for the team, it wasn’t always that way during the previous months.
“We played in some tournaments against higher division teams, and we took some lumps,” Casey said, “but it helped make us a better team.”
Coach Cajthaml says they plan to keep the players together for when they move up to 12U next season.
Unlike standard dimensions employed by Little League, at the 11U and 12U levels USSSA plays on 70-feet basepaths and at a distance of 50 feet from the pitching rubber to home plate.
“There are leadoffs, pick-off attempts … dropped third strikes,” Cajthaml said. “It’s real baseball just played on a smaller scale.”
Other members of the team include Garet Shannon, Ceth Barry, Gehrig Tibbitts, Kolbie Vance, MeKyver Hagarty, Holden McInroy, Sawyer Hanson, Rylan Peters and Brady Hanson.