By EARL WATT
• Daily Leader
The cruise control was set for the Rattlers this weekend at Rosel Field. The 11-year-olds punched their ticket to the state tournament at Marion with victories over Grant County and Stevens County including a 15-0 district championship win.
After knocking off Stevens County Friday, the Rattlers dismantled Grant County 15-1 in four innings.
Dylan Shellenberger dominated on the mound, pitching all four innings while helping his cause at the plate with a three-for-three performance and three RBIs. Shellenberger was awarded the MVP, and Javier Neave won the WOW Award.
Stevens County worked its way through the consolation bracket to force a rematch with Cimarron River, but Kaden Bigham pitched a shutout in four innings for a 15-0 run-rule win.
“My dad told me to let everything else go and just pitch,” Bigham said.
His dad, also his head coach, Bud Bigham, believes the scoring ability of his Rattlers might be able to overcome powerhouse Ottawa at the state tournament.
“It comes down to pitching and hitting at every level,” he said. “I believe we can hit now all the way down the order from one to nine. In the past, we’ve had one through four.”
This group of Rattlers finished second at state two years in a row to Ottawa, but the new offense has the team excited, including the MVP.
“Ottawa can hit,” Kaden Bigham said. “We need to hit more.”