Babe Ruth State Champs Raising Funds For Tourney Trips

OTTUMWA — They're representing more than just Ottumwa this week in northern Minnesota. The local 13-year-old Babe Ruth baseball team is representing an entire state this week in the Midwest Plains Regional Tournament.

The Iowa state champions received a hearty breakfast and nice send off from the southside Hy-Vee on Monday morning as the Ottumwa squad made the 600-plus mile journey to Roseau, a community that neighbors the Canadian border. Ottumwa will take part in the eight-team tournament, beginning on Wednesday at Noon with a matchup against Hi-Tower, Minnesota.

The Ottumwa 13-year-olds will be wearing new Iowa uniforms during the tournament. Head coach Dan Barnes hopes that will serve as added motivation for a team already very hopeful in what they can accomplish against the best in the Midwest.

"We've been talking with the kids all week and driving that point home that they are representing the entire state this week with how they play," Barnes said. "We don't want to put any extra pressure on them. We want them to have fun and play their best. If they play up to their potential, they have an excellent chance of going further on."

Further on being a trip to Mount Hope, Arkansas, which is the community that has taken the baton from Ottumwa as the host this year for the 13-year-old Babe Ruth World Series. To get there, Ottumwa has to get past a pair of North Dakota squads (defending regional champion West Fargo and Bismarck), two Minnesota teams (Roseau and St. Paul-Hi Tower) as well as state champions from Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska.

When it comes to getting past those teams, Barnes focuses on the fundamentals.

"We need to limit errors and we need to focus on playing together as a team," Barnes said. "We need to back each other up. The bats also have to be working. We've been addressing all those things in practice. Mostly, we want to have fun representing the state and leave it all out there on the diamond."

On and off the field, the Ottumwa 13-year-old Babe Ruth squad has been working together to ensure a successful trip to northern Minnesota. Besides putting in the time on the field, the players and coaches of the team have been spending the time off the field collecting funds from several supportive members of the community to finance the trip to Roseau.

"It's been a definite whirlwind. The kids have been very, very busy. They've been working their tails off to raise money for the trip," Barnes said. "I was personally at Walmart this weekend and I saw the outpouring of funds from people that read about our state title in the newspaper. They are all very much behind us and behind the youth of Ottumwa. These kids are lucky to have that type of support.

"There was a kid from Eddyville that came by and donated a sizable contribution to us. We've had people from Albia and several other surrounding communities that have come out to show their support for us."

Those that are still interested in donating to the Ottumwa Babe Ruth baseball program can still do so. Call 641-777-1635 or 641-799-1541 for more information.

Scott Jackson can be reached at Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.

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