On June 16, at the Spring Lake recreational center at Mendoza Park, the Fort Bragg Braves pulled off a miracle and won the first, off-post baseball championship for the 11 and 12-year-old age group.
Down by eight runs after just the first inning with the 10 run mercy rule looming over their heads, the Fort Bragg Braves stormed back to win the championship against the Spring Lake Rays.
With the Braves down and the team on the verge of losing confidence, first year Braves head coach, Lisa Kotson reinforced the team game plan.
“I can’t say what I said when they were down like that (after the first inning), but they got a really good pep talk,” said Kotson. “The only thing I wanted them to worry about was just getting one run or making one stop. They had just a different light after that. They started getting runs.”
Kotson’s plan was simple. She wanted her team to remember all of the things they had done in the past to get them to the championship game. But she also wanted her team to believe they were good enough to win.
“The biggest thing I try to teach, as the coach is that we win as a team and we lose as a team. It is never one individual’s fault for either (outcome),” said Kotson.
Finding a way to win is just what the Braves did.
In the next five innings they found a way to get stops and their bats began finding the ball as the Braves earned 12 runs and only allowed three more scores from the Rays to complete the comeback.
Braves players, coaches and Families were jubilant in their celebration.
“Winning the championship felt like getting five times as much Christmas presents on Christmas,” said Kyle Will, 12, pitcher. “Coach (Kotson) really made us work hard for it.”
In order for the Braves to capture their first title, it took more than batting and fielding, it also took special effort from a team of people.
“I’m proud of this team,” said Kotson. “We wouldn’t have made it to this championship if we didn’t have the dedication from the players, coaches and Families.”
Plans and strategies are already in the works for the next season as Brave’s coaches and players can’t wait to defend their championship.