One of Maricopa’s own youth baseball teams has secured a place in a USSSA World Series tournament in Denver, Colorado, in July, giving the kids a chance to compete among some of the West’s toughest teams.
The Maricopa Dusters, age 11 and under, qualified for the Under Armour/USSSA Global World Series last fall with wins at both the Veterans Salute NIT in Peoria and Thanksgiving Shootout in Phoenix. Their momentum continued through the spring, and a recent upset at the Arizona USSSA State Championship solidified their reputation with a 5-0 record, scoring an average of 10 runs a game.
Dusters head coach Marty McDonald believes these numbers prove the team is athletically well-rounded, but for him it’s their resolve that makes them truly unique.
“We’ve been in situations where we’ve been down by several runs and we’ve come back to win games,” McDonald said.
They’re strong hitters and pitchers, McDonald added, but it’s “their heart, their character and their desire to play the game” that could take them all the way this year.
Assistant coach Randy Richardson feels the team’s strengths lay in their ability to field the ball, allowing an average of only four runs a game during the state tournament.
At age 11, it’s easy to get distracted, he said, so as long as they concentrate on their objectives and recognize where they fall short, he has no doubt they can take home the big win in Denver.
The players, some of whom have played baseball since they could walk, seem to already know how to help each other stay focused, and most importantly, how to help each other improve.
“We know each other so good that we can discover what [each other’s] comfort zone is and we can help them push it,” second baseman and outfielder Maverick McDonald said.
Many of these young athletes have played on the same team for three years or longer, and now with the Dusters being announced as the official youth club feeder program for Maricopa High School, the kids can look forward to many more years backing up each other on the field.
“It’s good that we know each other [so well],” 11-year-old Ethan Chavez said, “because we’re probably going to be playing with each other for a while.”
This is the Dusters’ second trip to a USSSA World Series. In 2016, they competed in Dallas and finished fifth out of 46 teams.
July 20 is their first scheduled game in this year’s tournament. Their opponents will likely be released a week or two prior to the tournament.
This story appears in the July issue of InMaricopa.