COLUMBIA - Laura Knoesel couldn’t hold back tears of joy as her son slid into home. Jack Knoesel, who just turned 11 this week and was starting for the first time in state tournament play, hit an inside-the-park home run, giving his team a 4-0 lead in the state championship game.
The Daniel Boone Little League All-Stars beat Carthage 7-4 on Monday at the program’s fields in Columbia to win the title in the 9- and 10-year-old division. The championship represented the pinnacle of success for the team. Older teams advance to regional and national play, but at this level, postseason play concludes with the state title. It is the second straight season that a team from the Daniel Boone Little League has won the state championship at this level.
“It’s great to see all that hard work has paid off,” said shortstop Connor “Sunshine” Brumfield, who was on last year’s state championship team. “It’s exciting. I’m happy for everybody.”
The team formed only five and a half weeks ago, giving it less than a month to prepare for the start of district play. According to Charlotte Brumfield, mother of Conner Brumfield and wife of manager Craig Brumfield, the team practiced three times a week and went to the batting cages twice a week before games began.
The team went 10-0 in the state tournament, winning six games in the district tournament and all of its pool play games in the four-team state tournament to reach Monday’s championship. Daniel Boone beat Perryville and Lacomo by 10 runs and bettered Carthage 14-7 to ensure a spot in the championship.
In the championship game, Daniel Boone played nearly flawless defense and got a complete game from pitcher Matt Echelmeier.
“The team played real well,” Ann Echelmeier, mother of Matt Echelmeier, said. “They just played clean baseball and Matt stayed focused. I’m very proud of him.”
But being state champions isn’t the only thing that’s important to the players. They said they also enjoy making new friends and just getting the chance to play baseball.
“We try to give every kid experience, because this may be the only time they make it on an all-star team,” Craig Brumfield said. “I couldn’t be more proud of them and all they accomplished.”