RIFLE, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT) About an hour drive from Grand Junction, you can find a little league baseball team that has shown toughness and a will to never give up. Last year's Colorado River Valley 12-U baseball team made it to the state tournament but fell short of a title. This season, the team had to overcome an early tournament loss to win a state championship for the first time in CRV history.
"The kids came out with some fire and we played a good game of baseball,” said coach Ryan Harlow. “We ended up winning the championship. We had to win two so we did it the hard way but we did it."
The Colorado River Valley 12-U baseball team won the state championship for the first time in CRV history.
"It took a big hit for us to finally get the momentum to go and get it," Benjamin Simons said.
"It felt really good and it was the first time for me because last year it wasn't that great," Adan Medina said.
The team had lost to Colorado Springs earlier in the tournament and had to beat them twice to become state champions. They won back to back games, 2-0 and 4-3.
"We just had to come back stronger and work a lot harder,” said Dylan Miller. “Colorado Springs was a good team."
"I think losing made us understand that we need to keep fighting,” said Harlow. “That it's not an easy cake walk. The boys showed up on Sunday and they came out and fought and didn't ever lay down which is why we won."
These kids can play ball. The next step in their growth as players is thinking on their feet and understanding game situations.
"The biggest challenge I felt with this team was the mental game of baseball,” Harlow said. “The cutoffs, the bunts, the rundowns, all the small stuff instead of just putting on your cleats and going out there, you actually have to think."
"We are just trying to tighten up defense so we don't have an infield missing grounders that we could turn into outs," said Simons.
CRV's 12-U team will represent Colorado in the regional tournament in Waco, Texas. For many of the kids, they've never been to the lone star state but they are hoping to leave their mark on the field.
"It takes hard work to get to there and you have to play really hard, your best and do teamwork," said Josh Wright.
"If they just play ball, I think we are going to compete,” said Coach Harlow. “We have a good core group that is going to make it easier for the younger kids to just jump on their backs and go."
"We're successful when we have a good defense,” said Logan Harlow. “When we have a good inning then we go in the dugout and have a pretty good inning hitting too."