Shenandoah’s 12U Cal Ripken All-Stars came in as underdogs, but went out state champs

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12yrold Major 60

~ PVN staff report

PULASKI, July 11 — The boys from Shenandoah weren’t given a lot of credit coming into the Cal Ripken 12U Major/60 boys state tournament held in Pulaski, well south of Roanoke, earlier this month.

“A true underdog story this weekend as these Shenandoah boys took on Teams twice their size and 50x their player pool at the State level,” one team father posted on Facebook. “From day one the boys were written off by their competitors, belittled on and off the field for 4 days, some undefeated teams choosing to skip designated warm up times stating they ‘didn’t need it’.”

Yet, it was the boys from the Shenandoah Recreation League that turned heads as they notched upset after upset over bigger programs. These 12-year-old All-Stars left an impression on their rivals, including a walk-off win in the state championship.

Down by one run in the bottom of the sixth and final inning, Shenandoah was down to its last out. That’s when Chayse Austin stepped to the plate and worked the pitcher to a full count.

With everything riding on one final pitch, Austin then belted a double down the right-field line that scored two runs, won the state championship and earned the young slugger Most Valuable Player honors for the state tournament.

Manager Chad Austin and these “never give up” 12-year-old All-Stars are now headed to the far Northeast to compete in the Cal Ripken 2022 12U Major/60 World Series in Waterville, Maine on Aug. 4-14. A dozen teams from across the U.S., including eight regional champions, will compete over 10 days in the first Cal Ripken World Series to ever be held in Maine. Games will be livestreamed from Purnell Wrigley Field in Waterville and Maine’s Fenway in Oakland.

“The lessons learned about determination this weekend will stick with these boys for the rest of their lives and they couldn’t be happier to represent Virginia at the National level in Maine for the first time in Shenandoah’s history,” the father’s Facebook post continued. “Disney sports movies don’t come close to preparing for the emotional journey this type of underdog story takes you on, shout-out to the Mighty Ducks for trying though.”

This marks the third state champion that the Shenandoah Rec League has produced this summer, including two Babe Ruth softball teams — the 12U and 8U All-Stars.

“On behalf of the Shenandoah Rec League, we truly appreciate all the donations and support from everyone in the community,” League President Joy Williams, said. “Thank you for helping make these dreams come true.”

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