The South in Chandler National South stands for S-Strength, O-Opportunity, U-Unity, T-Team and H-Heart.
The team needed all five of those characteristics on Friday night to defeat the Desert Ridge Little League team by a 14-3 count.
With the win, Chandler National upped it’s record to 12-0 and qualified for a trip to San Bernadino, Calif., where the western regional playoffs will be held for the Little League World Series.
Chandler National used a nine-run second inning to put the game out of reach and leave no doubt as to which team would represent the state of Arizona in the “Big Dance.”
“It’s a great feeling,” Chandler National manager Ty Garrison said. “What a great group of young men we have here. We went into it with a couple of ground rules that we set early on. We said, ‘We’re not gonna coach your effort, you’re gonna play hard every game and you’re gonna be a great teammate, and the rest will fall in place.'”
“When you play for Chandler, that’s a hard Little League season, because it’s such a hotbed of baseball there,” Garrison said. “We got on a roll, and that’s what it takes when you’re gonna win a state championship, is get on a roll and we did and every one of these boys contributed.”
The team will leave on Wednesday for San Bernadino, Calif., and will face Northern California on Friday.
After the win, Garrison was flanked in the outfield by his coaches, his players and what seemed like a thousand family members for a post game victory talk, which did get emotional for Garrison because of what he’s been through with his team and how hard they’ve grinded to get to this point in their season.
“Look, we’ve got a chance here, our opportunities are just starting, just like we told you with the state tournament,” Garrison said. “We’re not going to San Bernadino to just say we’re from Arizona and we’re glad to be here. We’re going to [San Bernadino] to play the kind of baseball we can play, to represent Chandler and to represent our state.”
When Garrison told everyone that they’ll be walking in the stadium with the state flag, everyone broke out in applause.
The emotions of the game and the season has had a trickle down effect on the players as well.
First baseman Kyle Hasler hit a home run in that large second inning. He describes the at-bat and what this trip to the World Series means to him.
“When I got down 0-2, I was just hoping to put the ball in play,” Hasler said. “He [opposing pitcher] left it up, [I] put a pretty good swing on it and [it] got out.”
“It’s almost unimaginable,” Hasler said of making it to the Little League World Series. “It’s hard to explain, you can even imagine in your greatest dreams.”
Speaking of dreams, I asked Hasler if he was going to sleep after the game or at all in the next few days before they head to California, and his response was simple:
“No,” Hasler said. “Not at all, not even close.”