Little Leaguers circle bases

Contributing Writer

Coon Rapids/Andover American Little League circled the bases last month, wrapping up the season in Indianapolis where the 12-year-olds competed in the Midwest Regional tournament after winning the state tournament for the second time since 2013.

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Coon Rapids/Andover American Little League players celebrate after winning the state championship and advancing to Midwest Regions in Indianapolis.Photo courtesy of Jason Osberg

“We always have had good baseball, strong teams. The youth program is second to none, always successful,” said Coon Rapids/Andover head coach Jason Osberg, himself a product of the local Little League program and coach for the past nine seasons.

With players residing in Coon Rapids, Andover, Blaine and beyond Coon Rapids/Andover Little League teams have won state and competed at regions in 1984, 1988 and 1991 in addition to 2013 and 2016.

Extending the program’s legacy, Coon Rapids/Andover made it to the Aug. 7-13 Midwest Regionals after winning the July 26-31 Minnesota state tournament this year.

“The kids were confident but not cocky. We knew we had the ability to make it, but never overlooked an opponent. We gave each game our best,” Osberg said describing his players’ tournament-time attitude and effort.

In Indianapolis this year, Coon Rapids/Andover won its first Midwest Regional game 4-3 against a South Dakota team before being shut out 9-0 by a team from Iowa. Coon Rapids/Andover went on to a decisive 9-2 win over the Missouri team that won regionals last year but was eliminated in the semifinals by a team from Kansas, 6-3.

Osberg said that the local Little League program is a “great league, very well-run and has great facilities.”

And the league retains many players over the years, he said, and consistently turns out strong teams.

Case in point: This year, the 10-year-old team, the 11-year-old team and the 12-year-old team each won their respective state tournaments, while the 9-year-old team won its district tournament and went undefeated. (That team does not have a state tournament.)

For Osberg, who coached his older son, Jarett, and currently coaches younger son, Ben, the 2016 season was his last Little League coaching season.

Not ready to hang up his cleats or put away the score sheet, Osberg said: “These kids, they’re done with Little League after their 12-year-old year. They can play traveling baseball, and some will. Ben will play on Andover’s traveling team next year, and I will coach that team.”

Meanwhile, Osberg said local Little League will continue racking up the wins.

“This program is so strong, keeps turning out great players and that’s going to continue, I’m sure,” he said.

To learn more about Coon Rapids/Andover American Little League, visit www.crallbaseball.org.

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