BEMIDJI -- The 13U Northern Heat baseball team had already achieved something no other Bemidji team had before by bringing home a Minnesota state championship last month. The team continued to up the ante, winning the Midwest Plains Regional Championship last weekend in Chadron, Neb.
Now the squad is heading to the Babe Ruth World Series in Mountain Home, Ark., to compete with some of the top teams in the country for a national title.
“I’ve coached them since they were nine years old. The boys are extremely dedicated to the sport of baseball,” head coach Jason Brodina said. “They’re a close-knit team. They believe in team first, and that is what has really driven them to success. We have a lot of special players on this team, but there’s no one player that’s any more important than the next.”
After advancing out of pool play at last weekend’s regionals, Bemidji won an extra-innings nailbiter over Kansas, 3-2, in the semifinals. A 4-0 shutout victory in the championship game over Grand Forks punched the team’s ticket to Arkansas. The two runs Bemidji conceded to Kansas in the first inning of the semifinals were the last the team allowed over its final 14 innings of the tournament.
“That’s one of the trademarks of the team is their ability to play defense,” Brodina said. “And they do really, really well defensively.”
This same group of players also qualified for the Babe Ruth World Series by winning the regional title in Chadron when they were 10 years old. This season, that collective has totalled a record of 44-9.
Bemidji, who will compete under the Midwest Plains moniker, will begin play Thursday, Aug. 9, at the 13 Year-Old Babe Ruth World Series by taking on the host team from Mountain Home, Ark. Pool play will continue with games against Middle Atlantic (Aug. 11), Ohio Valley (Aug. 12) and New England (Aug. 13). Bracket play will begin Tuesday, Aug. 14.
“Our goal is to get through pool play and get into bracket play,” Brodina said. “And then our goal is to get to the championship. I believe that we have a good mix of hitting, pitching and defense to do it. And you add the drive and the teamwork that these boys display, and I believe that they can go and do a lot of damage in this national tournament.”
Fans are invited to wish the Heat good luck at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 5, at the North Prep fields, west of the Mark Evenson fields.
Bemidji will travel to Arkansas on Tuesday, Aug. 7, and be there for 10 days. The team has created a GoFundMe page and is encouraging fans to donate to help families with travel expenses for the tournament. To contribute, visit https://www.gofundme.com/w5rhm-babe-ruth-world-series?teamInvite=HxZLPu0....