That pride has grown over recent years as

By Eric Clutter Record-Courier staff writer Published:

That pride has grown over recent years as Windham teams have

enjoyed success at every level, from H League up through E League.

With that success comes expectations. And when you are dealing

with young kids, there is always the question of how they will

respond to the challenge.

Well after Sunday it's now a fact that the 9- and 10-year-old

kids that are Windham Jim's Fuel & Deli know how to handle pressure.

Against Rootstown Jet Rubber in Sunday's Alliance Hot Stove

H League state championship game, Windham broke open a close battle

in the middle innings and went on to post a 12-2 victory at Butler-Rodman

Park.

Windham completed its season with a perfect 26-0 mark, this

coming on the heels of last year's 19-1 campaign which ended with

a loss in the state semifinals.

Forty-five and one over the last two summers. Not too shabby.

"Expectations were so high after going to state last year.

There was a lot of pressure on these kids," said Windham

coach Dave Apthorpe. "That's why we kept trying to tell them,

'take a deep breath, just relax and play baseball.' You can say

that all you want to, (but) they are going to feel it.

"They know they are supposed to win and they have been

here before. People are telling them, 'You guys are going to win

state.' That's tough _ at any age _ much less 9 or 10."

The pitching tag team of starter Cody Apthorpe and Kyle Cooper

(MVP of the game) held Rootstown to four hits over six innings.

The two Rootstown runs came on successive second-inning wild pitches

that narrowed the gap to 3-2.

Windham got an important run in the third to increase the lead

to two runs and then scored two more in the fourth on a strange

play.

After Rootstown's Justin Buso had retired the first two hitters

of the inning, Cooper reached on an error that prolonged the frame.

Apthorpe then singled, and with Rootstown throwing the ball

around wildly on the play, both Cooper and Apthorpe were able

to cross the plate for a 6-2 lead.

Now working with a four-run cushion, the Windham pitching tandem

continued to throttle the Rootstown lineup, while the offense

put up back-to-back three-run innings in the fifth and sixth.

Mackenzie Miller supplied the big hit in the fifth with his

two-run triple. Matthew Whan's two-run single in the sixth gave

Windham a 10-run lead and ended the game.

Rootstown, which managed only four singles, dug itself a 3-0

hole after one inning, as D.J. Hickle yielded RBI hits to D.J.

McCune and Brad Troyer and a run-scoring groundout to David VanSteenberg.

"To their credit, every chance they got, they took advantage

of," said Rootstown coach Joe Trocchio, whose team completed

its season with a 22-2 record. "We didn't take advantage

of any of our opportunities."

The only success Rootstown enjoyed came in the second when

Hickle and Josh Mueller singled to start the frame, putting runners

at the corners. Mueller then stole second and both came home on

wild pitches.

"It was an outstanding season," said Trocchio. "We

were just truly happy to be here, to get this far. The kids did

a good job."

Troyer led a 14-hit Windham attack with three singles and a

double. Sean Kellar, Apthorpe and Whan each had two hits.

"The bats came alive," said Dave Apthorpe. "We

haven't hit the ball really since the district finals. Pitching

has something to do with that. (Rootstown) is a real sound, deep,

fundamental defensive team that is real good in the field. But

we just hit the ball so sharply that they were going to find some

holes, no doubt about it."

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E-mail: eclutter@recordpub.net

Phone: (330) 678-5460

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