Surrey reaches Babe Ruth state tourney for a fourth straight season
SURREY — Once an ambition, now a standard. The Surrey Blue Sox baseball team travels to Kindred this weekend to compete in the Class B Babe Ruth State Tournament (ages 13-15) for a fourth straight season.
Before this ongoing postseason stretch, Surrey had only made this state tournament twice in program history.
“We talk at the start of every year that you aren’t going to make it back to a state tournament just because the previous year did,” Blue Sox head coach Jason Feller said. “We are upfront with that. We tell them they’re a new team now, and you have to work just as hard as the other guys did.”
A new team, but still a lot of familiar faces. Surrey relied on its veteran core to post a staggering 24-3 overall record and win another district championship. The Blue Sox toppled Burlington, 15-0, in the title game.
“We had seven or eight returning starters, and having six of them being 15 (years old) was big,” Feller said. “They have already been to two state tournaments themselves and have that experience.”
Infielder Coltan Francis is hopeful this state tournament run can top previous trips. Surrey hasn’t been able to finish as one of the four best teams in the eight-team tournament over the last three seasons.
“We are always excited to go, and see how far we can go,” Francis said. “We kind of know what it’s going to be like, so we won’t be as nervous.”
Not to be overlooked, pitching has been paramount.
“We have a handful of guys that I would consider to be top-tier guys on a lot of teams,” Feller said. “We have a lot of guys that throw strikes. Even some of our young, 13- and 14-year-old kids, they just come in and throw strikes. So, in a tournament like this where you play with pitch limits, it’s definitely big to have multiple pitchers.”
That was clearly on display against Burlington in the district championship game, as the Blue Sox posted a no-hitter to punch their ticket to state.
Momentum is behind them, and so is the ambition of the older players to make their last Babe Ruth appearances special.
“This year is going to be big for us because it’s a lot of our last years,” Surrey outfielder Kekoa Munos said. “I think we can go and win the state tournament if we come out banging. We have a lot of motivation, and we keep things going. Once we start, we don’t stop.”
Surrey will take on the tournament hosts Kindred in the opening round on Friday. It will be the final game of the day with first pitch scheduled for 7 p.m. Other first-round games include Casselton against Rugby (11 a.m.), Langdon against Hazen (1:30 p.m.) and Mayville against LaMoure (4 p.m.).
The double-elimination state tournament is slated to run through August 4 with the championship game taking place at noon on Tuesday. The rematch title game will directly follow if necessary.
Alex Eisen covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.