Wylie’s Junior Little League Team slammed its goals for this summer right out of the ballpark.
The team was determined to become the first Wylie team to win a Texas West State Championship. As it turns out, the team was thinking small.
Not only did the Wylie Juniors win state, they went on to win the Southwest Regional Tournament and become the first Wylie team to ever qualify for the World Series.
“Everyone dreams of the World Series,” Manager Damon Albus said. “Did I ever think it would be a reality? No way. Not until this group of kids showed up.”
Most of the 11 All-Stars on the team have played together in Wylie Little League since they were very little, a fact that they say helps them on the field.
“Our chemistry on this team is outstanding,” says pitcher Dash Albus. “We all understand each other. We’ve pretty much grown to be a family.”
Teammate Riley Hood said the group is more than just teammates.
“It’s not really teammates anymore,” he said. “It’s brothers. Even off the field.”
Their manager agreed that the chemistry is a huge help, but he said the boys are also very talented.
“We’ve got a group of kids that is incredible,” he said. “They are athletic. We have eight pitchers, and the other three can throw. I could throw them in the air like Pixy Stix and they can play wherever they land. Every one can play multiple positions.”
Wylie breezed through the district and Section 2 tournaments but almost saw its dreams derailed at state when Alice beat them 5-6 in the first game and sent them straight to the losers’ bracket.
But the Wylie team did not let that stop them.
“We never got down, said teammate Garrett Graham. “We gave 100 percent every game.”
Wylie won two straight to earn a rematch with Alice in the championship.
“I was nervous because we did need to win twice,” Walker Piland said. “That was nerve-racking.”
Wylie won the first game 17-7 to force the second game and won that game in a nail-biter 3-1 to win the state championship and accomplish their goal.
“We were just excited to get out of state,” Garrett said. “That was our goal. No one from Wylie’s done that.”
The team did not lose at the Southwest Regional Tournament, although its toughest opponent was the Texas East State Champion. Wylie sent them to the loser’s bracket with a 5-4 victory. They faced the team again in the championship and won again to go to the World Series.
The boys were local celebrities by the time they got back from the Regional Tournament, with television and newspaper reporters looking for interviews and pictures and the community rallying to show its support.
“We’ve got support from the fans and the community,” Albus said. “It’s something special. The boys are just enjoying the moment and living the dream. We’re going to the World Series.”
Reed Hughes said the media attention has been cool.
“It’s different,” he said. “Having the community backing us up is awesome.”
Riley said the team really appreciates the community support.
“We know the whole town of Abilene has our back,” Riley said. “We are going to enjoy the moment. We won’t get this moment back.”