Roller coaster season ends on high note for Price American Legion
In the end, it may not be the one who has the best record who really wins. It will be the ones who grew together as a team and had a lot of fun along the way.
At least that's the way that Price American Legion baseball coach Willie Ellington sees things.
After getting off to a fast start to the 2013 season, the Price American Legion baseball team fell just short in their quest to qualify for the American Legion State Tournament. Only six teams from the Salt Lake Valley League qualified for the tournament, with Price coming up just shy of a spot finishing in a tie for eighth place with Granger with league records of 7-8.
Despite the tough news of just missing out on the playoffs, Ellington said he was pleased with how the team battled over the course of the season.
"I think we had a real positive year," said Ellington. "If you finish as a team at the end of the season, then it's a successful year."
The Price team experienced a roller coaster of ups and downs over the course of the season. The team opened the season on a high note including going 4-1 at a Green River, Wyo., tournament back in mid-June. But they also experienced the lows of consecutive losses during the mid-season.
"We lost some real close games this season, but we also played some really good ball too," Ellington explained. "I'm proud of how they hung in there."
Price ended the year with two straight wins including an 8-6 over Corner Canyon on July 17 and an 8-3 win over Murray on July 19. Ellington said it was a good way for the team to end the season, even with the knowledge they would be left out of the playoffs.
While the team made plenty of errors and mistakes on both sides of the ball, Ellington said he was more concerned about the players learning from their mistakes and becoming better players and teammates. A handful of players on the team showed leadership that helped carry the team through tough times, Ellington noted.
"It's nice to be surrounded by good players who show leadership both on and off the field," he said. "They showed a love for the game and played hard throughout the whole season."
While baseball is meant to be a combination of competition and fun for all those involved, inevitably problems will arise. Ellington said the team started the season with 18 players on the squad but ended with 14 players, with a group of players deciding to leave the team at various points in the season. For those players who stayed and competed to the end, Ellington said he was proud of their determination and commitment to the team.
"Some of the guys just need a little more discipline both on and off the field," said Ellington.
With some 30 years of baseball experience under his belt, Ellington said he realizes that problems will come up with teams. But baseball can have a way of mimicking how life can play out for many people, he said.
"I am always looking to help make players better both on and off the field," he said. "They're gonna have ups and downs in life, but win or lose out there on the field, just don't quit."
With a team like Helper just down the road finishing in first in the league and regularly fielding some of the best players and teams in the state, Ellington said that situation can cast a large shadow over the Price team and their quest to be noticed in the area.
In two games against Helper this season, Price was outscored 21-1 in two losses. Price kept things close against Helper playing through three scoreless innings during the Helper Tournament last month before errors in the bottom of the fourth inning turned the tide and eventually the game in Helper's favor.
While the errors hurt the team in the record books, Ellington said he was proud to see the team come together and back each other up.
"That's how you know a team can be good down the road," he explained.
Should all of the current players with eligibility return next season, Ellington said the team has the potential to be even better and could challenge for a spot in the state tournament.
"The guys need to continue to stick together as a team," he said. "These kids went through a lot, but they fought through it all and did so with a lot of courage."