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Jackson to play for Babe Ruth state title
A young Jackson Senior Babe Ruth baseball team is ready to take aim at state success.
Jackson is one of eight squads to qualify for the Missouri Senior Babe Ruth state tournament that begins today in Leadwood.
Jackson will play its first-round game at 6 p.m. Friday against Boonville. The championship of the double-elimination event is set for Monday, with the winner earning a berth in the Midwest Regional.
Also in the field is Charleston, the defending state champion that will host the Midwest Regional from July 24 to 28. Charleston plays its opening-round contest today.
Jackson (20-10) is in the state field for the first time since 2005. The team qualified by virtue of its second-place finish behind Charleston in the SEMO South Conference.
"With as young a team as we have, we're thrilled to be qualified," said Paul Sander, who coaches the squad along with Stan Minson and Chad Minson. "We really didn't go into the year thinking we would be able to do this. To do it is outstanding."
Senior Babe Ruth generally consists of players ages 16 through 18, but Jackson has four 15-year-olds on its roster after they received waivers to play. Jackson has only three 18-year-olds.
"I think we'll be the youngest team in the tournament, but we feel we can play with anybody on a given day," Sander said. "If we play to our potential, we have the capability to play with anybody in the tournament."
Roughly half of Jackson's 17 players attend Saxony Lutheran High School. There are no Jackson High School students on the roster, although several of the players live in Jackson.
Four Jackson players are batting better than .400, led by Saxony's Garrett Fritsche at .446.
Woodland's Ben Rhodes is hitting .444, followed by Notre Dame's Ryan Bass at .431 and Chaffee's Adam Urhahn at .400.
Chris Roth, Jackson's ace pitcher who was also Saxony's ace this year, will start on the mound Friday. Roth is 5-1 and also carries a .396 batting average.