After winning the Milwaukie Invitational, the Banks Invitational and the Tri-County district championship, there was only one trophy left for the Camas Outlaws to obtain.
The team of 9- and 10-year-old baseball players from Camas and Washougal put the finishing touches on a perfect season when they defeated Sweet Home, Ore., 18-7 for the Junior Baseball Organization’s Midget American state championship July 14, in Corvallis, Ore.
“It’s surreal for us to be 31-0. One of the parents said it was like catching lightning in a bottle. Everything went our way,” said head coach Tad Mairs. “The kids were ecstatic. There were high-fives and big hugs all around. Some of us even had tears in our eyes. It was a very special moment.”
The Outlaws beat Oregon City in the opening round by the score of 14-4. They also defeated Liberty 7-5 and Keizer 12-11. Camas then rallied from five runs down in the first inning to beat Selwood 6-5 in the semifinals.
“Hard work and unity pays off. It takes the whole team working together in order to accomplish those feats,” Mairs said. “By the time we got to the state tournament, our bottom of the lineup was better than everyone else’s. You could see the difference. We were just peaking at the right time, one through nine in the lineup.”
Mairs and his fellow coaches Eric Rheaume and Aaron Howington thanked the players for making the sacrifices necessary for the team to improve as a whole each practice and each game. They also thanked the family members of these ballplayers for their unwavering support.
“I can’t tell you how many parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, and cousins I saw at the games,” Mairs said. “It was pretty amazing.”
The Outlaws camped together during their tournaments. They also participated in team barbecues and went out for pizza. Before the state championship game, they all shaved their hair into mohawks.
“If you’ll do it, I’ll do it,” Mairs said. “Having that bond is very important. It makes you stronger as a team.”
As the Outlaws rode off into the sunset as state champions, Mairs is excited to see where they venture in the future. Some could be back with the team next year. Others might move away or pursue greener pastures, but they will always have the memories from this perfect season to treasure.
“I hope to see the kids go on and continue to be successful through hard work,” Mairs said. “Years like this one don’t come around all that often. We all feel pretty lucky.”