A few weeks ago, the Blue Springs Rod’s Sports Athletics were like a rudderless ship trying to navigate choppy seas.

A few weeks ago, the Blue Springs Rod’s Sports Athletics were like a rudderless ship trying to navigate choppy seas.
“Right before the Wood Bat Invitational,” said A’s team leader and third-year starter Matt McHenry, “no one knew what to make of the season. We weren’t playing very well and we weren’t having much fun.
“That’s when (manager Mike) Rooney told us how he felt. He was disappointed in us, and we were disappointed in ourselves. We weren’t playing like the A’s are supposed to play.”
So leaders like McHenry and Bret Sutton took charge, and the A’s made an emotional run through the Fifth District Tournament and claimed a stunning championship win over another surprise team, Raytown Post 596.
“It was right around Wood Bat when I’d had enough,” Rooney said of his team, which went 2-2 in Wood Bat pool play and failed to advance to the championship bracket. “I told them they were better than they were playing and that I had more confidence in them than they had in themselves.
“I know guys like McHenry and Sutton took charge, and some of the young guys like Tyler Barth and Tyler Reed started to play real well. Heck, they all but had the (Lee’s Summit Post 189 Auxiliary) Outlaws’ name engraved on the championship trophy and our guys found out that sometimes, the teams with the most talent don’t win the championship.”
Who knows, maybe that was the case Monday at Liberty Park Stadium in Sedalia, where the A’s simply ran out of pitching in the Zone 2 American Legion Tournament, falling 10-8 to the Sedalia Post 642 Travelers in what turned out to be the title game.
The A’s had won the last two Zone tournaments and state championship series and had advanced to the Legion regionals.
The 33-17 A’s had to fight their way back through the losers’ bracket and needed two wins over Sedalia Monday to advance to the state tournament, which begins Thursday at Hidden Valley Park in Blue Springs.
“It’s tough for the season to end this way,” said McHenry, who smashed a two-run homer and threw out a base runner from right field to complete a ninth-inning double play. “But I am so proud of this team. Let’s face it – the last two years we were just better than every other team. We had all the Division I talent and we went out and beat people.
“This year, we didn’t have as much talent, and we still found a way to beat people. And it all started around the Wood Bat. Since that time, we’ve played as a team – and that’s what I’ll remember about this season.”
So will Sutton, who can play two more years for the A’s as he enters his senior year at Fort Osage High School.
“I’m going to miss the guys on this team who won’t be back because we really came together as a team when we needed to,” said Sutton, who is getting recruited by Division I schools. “We were a team in the past, but we won on talent. This year, we won because we played as a team and we really cared about each other.
“No one really thought we’d make it this far except the guys and coaches on the team.”
This was also the last A’s game for Kyle Seithel, who said, “The last two and a half weeks have really been special because that’s when we became a team. I’m going to miss everything about being a member of the A’s.”
A couple of newcomers who made an impact this year and will become team leaders in the future are first baseman Tyler Barth and pitcher/infielder Tyler Reed.
“This has been an amazing year,” said Barth, who has been the object of a lot of attention from his teammates and Rooney the past few weeks. “Really, after not playing much in high school, it’s been kind of overwhelming.
“(Former A’s pitcher) Ben Bryant was a neighbor of mine when I was a kid, and I’ve been watching this team play for a long, long time. I dreamed of being a member of this team, and this year, the dream came true.”
Reed felt much the same way.
“You see a team like the A’s that wins all the time and you want to be a part of it,” Reed said. “This has been a great year. We’re sorry to see it end, but we’re all looking forward to next year. We want to get back to state and win another state championship.”
A few weeks ago, that seemed like an outlandish dream.
“After what I saw the past few weeks,” Rooney said, “who knows? I just know I love the way these guys played the last couple of weeks of the season.”