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Yesterday, Finn and his Zeeks Pizza Pumas won the 2018 Northeast Seattle Little League American Division championship with a 4-1 win over the Slalom Consulting Panthers.  It was the second league title in as many years for Finn’s team, both of which I coached.

It wasn’t easy.

At the beginning of the season our team looked terrible — so terrible that my assistant and I feared we’d never win a game.  We did — in fact, we didn’t lose until our sixteenth game.  After we lost two in a row I guaranteed we’d never win another game.  Turns out we never lost another one.

Saturday’s game was a classic.   We were behind 1-0 through the third because we couldn’t get anyone across home plate against Panthers ace Tate Bagley — this, despite getting six runners on.   We rallied for two runs, however, in the bottom of the fourth to take a 2-1 lead.

Then Finn came in.

Our ace all season (final stats), he did not disappoint.  In three innings, he gave up one hit (a double to Bagley), struck out eight, walked two — and gave up no runs.  Dell Geyer added a two-run single in the bottom of the fifth to give us a three-run lead, and when Finn struck out the last batter, a 4-1 victory — and the league championship — were ours.   An emotional Finn; fellow Puma pitcher Sonny Marona, who threw three innings of one-run ball; and Bagley were all named game co-MVP’s.

Truth be told, it wasn’t my best coaching job: probably only 2-3 (at most) of our players actually improved.  And it wasn’t the easiest of seasons: I think we trailed in at least half our games and I think I aged at least five years.  But we found ways to win when we probably didn’t deserve to.

And that’s the stuff of champions.

A few more photos:

 

Today Reese and I joined her friend Emerson Gouk and her mom Jen out at North Shore Golf Course.  The occasion was the North Shore MINI Open, and for Reese, it was her first eighteen-hole round.

Reese did pretty well.  Her 102 score on what was probably a 3,000-yard layout was good enough for fifth place in an eleven-girl field.  (Asterisk: that 102 came with a few pickups after triple bogeys.)  She hit a number of excellent drives and shots, most notably a hole out from forty yards on the fourteenth hole.  (Unfortunately it was for bogey.)   Her big issue right now is her short game — particularly her chipping.

There’s a summer ahead to work on that.

Reese and I spent this past Memorial Day weekend in Wenatchee with her Seattle Spice 10U softball team.

It didn’t go well.

We lost all our games, the last three by a combined total of 66-5.

On the bright side, Reese pitched in her first select-level games.  She wasn’t great but she wasn’t bad, either.  And she was certainly better than the rest of our staff, none of whom could find the plate.

And I did get some decent photos:

Last night, two days after her eleventh birthday, Reese and her pal Sammie and their moms hit the Taylor Swift concert at Century Link Field.  Mercifully I was not there, but I enjoy the photos:

 

Today Reese’s Laurelhurst Lionettes Minors softball team played a team from Ballard.  We won 23-5.  Reese pitched OK — five strikeouts in two innings along with five walks.  But she hit like a champion.  The highlight: her first ever home run, a laced line drive down the left field line that rolled all the way to the wall 200 feet away.  It was a solo shot, but to the two of us it felt like a grand slam.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo of that particular hit.  But we did get a few photos of the day, which included her first stint behind the plate.

 

Last night Reese, Finn and I joined several of Reese’s Seattle Spice teammates for a night out at Safeco Field.  The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim beat the Mariners 5-0 in the M’s first home game without Ichiro.  It was a historic night, too: future first ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols picked up his 3,000th hit.

A few photos:

One thing’s for certain: Finn’s a pretty darn good nine-year old baseball player.

Last season he was the star player on undefeated Zeeks Pizza Panthers little league team.

Last summer he made his first-ever select baseball team, the Seattle Pilots.

The dude is pretty good.

This season his Zeeks Pizza Pumas team is off to an undefeated, once-tied start.

And last night he lit it up.

The undersized, twig-legged wonder struck out all five batters he faced to help Zeeks Pizza defeat the Astros 6-3.

At 2-1 going into the fifth inning, it was the best little league game I’ve been a part of.

For the season, Finn’s stats are off the charts.  Through four games, he’s hitting .750 with an .818 on base percentage; .750 slugging percentage; and an OPS of 1.568.  All but his slugging percentage are tops on his team (Carter Ellis, .778).

His pitching numbers are even better.  He’s faced 18 batters in his 4 2/3 innings.  He’s struck out 14; walked four; and has not allowed a run or a hit.

The rest of his peers will catch up and pass him soon enough, but for now this is one fun ride.