Daniel Boone Little League's junior softball league has been around for just three years, but Ron Phillips, the manager of the league's All-Star team, is steeped in league history.
Phillips was a member of the inaugural Daniel Boone Little League baseball team in 1959, and three years later, he was on the league's first team to win a state title. Monday night, he guided the 13- and 14-year old softball team to its first state championship in Concordia at the Juniors State Softball Tournament.
"It's pretty significant that we've been able to go this far so quickly in such a young league," Phillips said.
He said the team's primary goal was to win the state title. The team, with a roster voted upon by fellow league players, rose to his challenge.
Behind the arm of ace Maribeth Eiken, who pitched all three games and closed out the tournament with back-to-back complete games, the team defeated Carroll County 4-1 to claim the championship.
Although the first game was marked by an offensive explosion — an 18-2 victory over Carroll County — assistant coach Kerry McDonald said the team's success is mainly because of small-ball techniques. The team's strengths are pitching and defense, and they manufacture most of their runs through bunts and timely hits.
"We only gave up five runs this entire tournament and just played really solid defense," McDonald said. "We're kind of relying on that in addition to good pitching."
The team advances to an eight-team regional tournament in Akron, Ohio on Aug. 6. The winner of that advances to the Junior League Softball World Series in Kirkland, Wash. from Aug. 14-20.
Phillips said he's aware of the tough competition his team faces.
"We don't want to lose sight of the fact that we're up there to have some fun," Phillips said. "It's gonna be a great experience."