Cole Johnson SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – Not far removed from their 2012 Babe Ruth World Series title, members of the Onondaga Valley All-Star baseball team have punched their tickets to go back. This time, they will pack their bags and head south to Alabama.
The team consists of some of the best 16-18 year-old baseball players across Central and Western New York. Head coach, Mark Kelley, looks to keep up the same team mantra from years past.
“We do things the right way,” said Kelley. “We play the game the right way, we respect the game and respect the opponents.”
When it comes to representing Central New York, it becomes more than just wins and losses for this team. There is a special sense of appreciation and togetherness that go along with it.
“It’s playing for the name on the front of the jersey instead of the name on the back,” said Kelley. “That’s really what it’s all about.”
Ryan Bennett of Westhill realizes what it means to represent his state.
“We want to represent everybody. It’s going to be fun,” he said. “They all have our backs and however the outcome is, we’ll have their support.”
Last season, the team was given an automatic bid to the World Series because it was hosted in Jamestown, NY. This year it was a tougher, yet more exhilarating route. The team lost their first game in regionals and had to fight their way back by winning six straight elimination games.
“They had a lot of resilience. They came together,” said coach Kelley. “They’re pretty battle tested and ready to go.”
Outside of going to win, Kent Wilson of Christian Brothers Academy also wants to enjoy the opportunity.
“Honestly we just want to have fun,” said Wilson. “Going to Mobile, Alabama is an experience in itself.”
The team will begin pool play on Aug. 2. Here’s a look at the Mid-Atlantic Regional bracket.