Sunday, July 23, 2017 This Week's Paper

Tacoma Pony Leagues cap second season

// Championship tourney squeezed in after rain

With a mini-monsoon drenching the Tacoma area on June 23, the rescheduling of Pony League tournament games would have to be condensed into an all-day affair for June 24. The recipe for success was good weather and good baseball, and they both showed up on Sunday and when it was all said and done, a sigh of relief could be heard coming up from the Heidelberg Sports Complex.

“Our growth has surpassed all of our expectations, this has been a phenomenal two-year run,” said league president and 10U Pioneer Black team coach Ryan Rhoads. “We thought we could get to this level in maybe five to six years. It’s been an incredible run so far.”

There have been several factors involved with the league’s rapid growth and success but one of the biggest has been the arrival of teams from Lakewood, Puyallup, Kent and University Place.

“We’ve already been called the best venue league in the Pacific Northwest by several coaches, that’s a great complement in the early stages of our development,” added Rhoads.

But with growth comes problems, and Rhoads is well aware of them.

“We may have to cap our 10 and 12U teams at 12 (players) apiece next year because of field availability which is a very important factor,” he said.

“We’re so excited over our early growth and the best is yet to come,” said Pioneer 12U coach Eric Jacobs, who was Rhoads’ assistant with the 10U’s last year.

Getting your team ready to play is one thing, but getting the field ready is another, and Rhoads and his crew are on top of all the preparation.

“It’s been a great team effort by a lot of the local coaches to get these fields ready for the tournament and with the lousy weather conditions this year, it’s been even more work than we ever imagined,” Rhoads said.

As the title games approached one thing became apparent – the top two seeds in both the 10U and 12U brackets would advance to the championship game. On the 10U side, Showtime from Puyallup would edge the Redhawks by a score of 11-9 in a thriller that would come down to the final out of the game.

“These kids have worked so hard and I could not be more proud of them,” said Showtime head coach Lance Hays of his 10U champs. On the 12U side, Poly Bags of Tacoma beat the Lions 98 squad from Bellarmine by a score of 6-1 as starting pitcher Brendan Jones would strike out nine hitters to capture the title.

“They were a great hitting team, I had my best stuff tonight,” said Jones.

With the tournament in the books, Rhoads had some more time to reflect on the championship day that was.

“It’s unbelievable to be in this position in only our second year of operation and down the road this will be a tremendous boon to the future of high school baseball in the city of Tacoma. I owe a big thank to a lot of people involved with this operation. Our future looks bright.”