WYOMING — Ken Powell has been around long enough to know that what Camden-Wyoming accomplished on Thursday doesn’t happen every day.
For starters, C-W’s 5-1 win over M.O.T. gave the league its first District I Major League baseball title in two decades.
And Camden-Wyoming captured the crown against a Middletown program that had won the district banner 17 of the last 18 summers in this age group.
Needless to say, though, Powell didn’t give his players — who are 11 and 12 years old — that history lesson before Thursday night’s championship game.
“I didn’t tell them anything about it in the beginning,” said Powell, C-W’s manager. “I didn’t really want them to get nervous about it. I just wanted them to play the game and focus on what we were doing.
“I didn’t want them to worry about the history, because not all of them know that. I kind of knew we hadn’t won in a while but I didn’t want them to put extra pressure on themselves.”
With the district banner now in its grasp, Camden-Wyoming has the chance to make even more history next week.
Camden-Wyoming will host the three-team, double-elimination Major League state tournament starting on July 28.
District III champion Lewes-Rehoboth faces District II winner Canal on the first night with C-W taking on the winner the following night. All games start at 7 p.m.
The tourney’s first championship game is slated for July 31 with the state champion earning a spot in the Mid-Atlantic Regional in Bristol, Conn.
The only time Camden-Wyoming won the state crown in this age group was in 1969.
After coaching the core of this squad in travel ball and on Little League all-star teams at other levels for the past few years, Powell knew this was a good bunch of kids.
“We have a lot of talent at this age group for some reason,” he said. “And a lot of them have a lot of playing time. They know how to play.”
In particular, C-W’s pitching and defense shone during the District I tournament. It allowed a total of only seven runs in winning its three games.
In Thursday’s clinching victory, starting pitcher Jay Sanchez and reliever Jacob Madden combined to limit M.O.T. to just one run. Sanchez also went 3-for-3 with a two-run homerun, Kingston Noel had a double and Shane Powell added a hit.
“Honestly, I have nine or 10 kids that can pitch at a relatively high level,” said Ken Powell. “And we have a lot of good fielding talent. These kids have played together and played a lot of travel baseball and other things.
“It’s more of my job to drive the bus, so to speak,” he added. “We kind of put them together at practice and let them manage the emotions. We let them do their thing.”
Powell said he’s just happy with the way these players have bounced back from having their season canceled by the pandemic last summer. While some kids still played travel ball, others didn’t really play at all.
“It was a tough year for everybody,” said Powell. “Getting everybody back in sync was a lot of work on the league’s part — especially in the beginning.”
Little League is still dealing with the effects of COVID. Because of the pandemic, no international teams will play in this year’s Major League World Series.
Instead, each U.S. region will send its top two squads to Williamsport, Pa. That means there will be a little bigger opportunity for whatever Delaware team advances to the Mid-Atlantic Regional.
Only two Delaware teams, both from New Castle County, have ever played in the World Series.
But Powell isn’t even thinking about those kinds of things right now. He knows it will be an even bigger accomplishment if Camden-Wyoming can make it out of the state tournament.
“It’s been a fun ride,” said Powell. “It’s been a good group of kids.
“The big thing is just focusing on today, what you’re doing right now. You don’t think about the game you won yesterday, you don’t think about where you’re going to go. It’s just keeping them focused.”