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Jul, 2022

Mid-Cap's Special All-Star Season (2022)

              2022 was a special year for Mid-Cap All-Stars.  Our 7 teams combined to win 18 games, one district title, two 2nd place finishes(with one-run losses in championship games) and a 3rd place finish where they only lost close games to the eventual champion.  For Midway, it was the best postseason since 2001.
              But, maybe what made it most special was the huge crowds and enthusiasm that showed up at so many of the games.  Players and families from all divisions showed up to cheer on older and younger Mid-Cap players.  At almost every game, the Mid-Cap crowds dwarfed the crowds from other leagues.  And this was only the third year for Midway and Capitol playing combined.  Maybe the most special moment was when the Nines won their title in dramatic fashion.  Players of all ages celebrated on Catalina Field with the 9yo team.  There were Senior, Junior, Major, Minor A, Minor B, and T-Ball players all celebrating together.  And one long-time former Midway board member and manager was brought to tears by all of this.  A community of people celebrating a team's title is something that happens in Little League and school sports.  It never happens in travel ball where only players and their parents are pulling for a team.  It's why Little League remains special, even as travel ball has different advantages.
            There were so many special moments and accomplishments.  We'll try to list them here:

- The Nines lost a lopsided game to Canal early in the tournament, but stormed back to beat National, Naamans, Brandywine, and Canal twice to win the title.  In the 'if necessary' game, Mid-Cap jumps to a 10-4 lead but Canal fights back to tie it and the game goes into extra innings where Mid-Cap prevails.  This is the first district title since 2007 for Midway and 2009 for Capitol.  Long before any of these players were born.

- For the second year in a row, the Major District team draws the eventual champion in the first round, loses, and has to make the long run through the losers bracket to reach the championship game.  This year, the team fell to Naamans 2-1, but rallied to beat New Castle, Canal, National, and American to reach the title game, only to lose another 2-1 heartbreaker to Naamans.  The win over American was the highlight.  Paul Kamenitzer was pitching a no-hitter until American hit a long home run with two outs in the top of the 6th to take a 1-0 lead.  But, Mid-Cap used two singles, a wild pitch, and a stolen base to get runners into scoring position and Kamenitzer singled to right to knock in the tying and winning runs.

- The Eights got their first exposure to All-Star competition in a machine-pitch tournament.  Despite having several 7yo on the roster, the team showed it's strength immediately, beating Canal and New Castle, before losing to Naamans.  They then rallied from down 10-2 to beat New Castle before falling again to Naamans 14-13 in the championship game.  And 5 games in a week is a challenge for any team, even if the machine is doing the pitching.

- The District Junior team had high hopes.  The team was full of players from Major teams that only lost to Canal the last two years, and Canal didn't even enter the tournament.  But, they lost to Brandywine in the opening game 5-3 and after beating Suburban and Newark American, faced Brandywine again in the losers bracket final and took a 10-8 lead into the bottom of the 7th, but Brandywine rallied to win the game.  Brandywine went on to beat Naamans twice by lopsided scores to win the District title.

- The Tens opened with a mercy rule win over New Castle and then had a 7-0 lead over eventual champion Canal before losing two straight.

- The Brandywine Invitational Tournament is always a tough challenge for smaller leagues, but we're no longer a smaller league and the team went 2-2, just missing out on a playoff spot.

            Naamans still had the best postseason, winning 4 of the 7 tournaments and finishing 2nd in two others.  Brandywine and Canal both had a first and a second.  National was shut out.

            So, how does this season stack up against history?  We haven't found anyone with a detailed knowledge of Capitol history but Midway history is well documented.
- This is the best season for Midway since 2001 when Midway teams won 3 district titles, a state title, a trip to Regionals, and a 26-14 record.
- From 1989 to 2001 were Midway's glory years, with many wins, district titles, 3 state titles, and a 3rd place in the Senior World Series.  But, it's hard to compare win counts because there weren't 8 or 9yo tourneys for most of those years and Juniors didn't exist.
- From 1965 to 1988, Midway won ZERO district titles.
- From 2002 to 2009, Midway averaged 11 wins per year.
- From 2010 to 2019, Midway averaged 7 wins per year (ranged from 5 to 9).
- In 2021, Mid-Cap's first normal year (2020 had less tourneys), Mid-Cap had 11 wins (and two teams were runner-ups).
- In most of this century, Naamans, Canal, National, and Brandywine have dominated the district.  Midway and Capitol (and American) were in the middle tier.  Most of our wins came when we played Wilmington, Suburban, Stanton, and New Castle.  But, Stanton and Wilmington didn't have any tournament teams this year.  Suburban and New Castle only had a few.  So, 18 wins without any over Wilmington and Stanton is impressive.  And 7 against the big 4 leagues (including a 5-1 record by the Nines against the big 4 leagues).

             Obviously, the combining of the two leagues is the main reason things are different now.  Thanks to both Boards, especially Presidents Andrew Brantley and Jack Fallon, for the foresight and leadership to make this happen (still waiting on Williamsport to make it official).  It wasn't always easy as each league did some things differently.  Compromises had to be made.  But the lines between the two leagues are really starting to blur and it sure felt like one league this month.
            But, credit also goes to all of the players, coaches, and families that played, coached, and cheered their hearts out this year. Having more players to pick from helps, but we still need players and coaches at every level working hard to make great teams and great seasons.  And, of course, fun seasons.
             Hopefully, this is just the beginning, and there will be many more special Julys to come.  Maybe even some special Augusts (and I don't mean Zickgraf). The strong showings by our 8s and 9s (and 7s) indicate the future can be bright.   But, let's enjoy what we had this year for now.  And maybe share it with others (especially those not playing for Mid-Cap who might want to join us).  

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