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Keeley Murray’s Ohio Bulldawgs Elite team wins nationals

| August 2, 2017

ZANESVILLE – The Zanesville based Ohio Bulldawgs Elite ‘03 displayed how much determination and heart they possess during their last tournament of the 2017 season.

Driven by multiple late-game comebacks, the Bulldawgs Elite won the USSSA Great Lakes 13U National Championship. The tournament featured 28 of the top 13U teams from seven states.

The Bulldawgs, led by Head Coach Clint Shearer, Manager Crystal Dudley and Assistants Nate Miller and Shawn Chamberlin dropped their first pool play game, 5-2, to Alliance- based Ohio Wolfpack ‘03.

Rising above the prior loss the team would respond with a 3-0 win against the Canton Lady Bombers ’03. Overcoming an 8-1 deficit to the Michigan Batbusters the Bulldawgs pulled out the 10-9 win in the final pool play game.

The win earned them a number two seed heading into bracket play. The Bulldawgs surged ahead with a 10-5 win against the Avon, Ohio based Lady Revs.

The second game of bracket play found the Bulldawgs trailing 7-3 entering into the final inning against a vocal Indiana Zephyrs team, which sparked a five run rally to earn an 8-7 victory.

Riding high off the previous victory the Bulldawgs dug in and prevailed with a 9-1 win against the Kentucky Crush. In the semi-final game, the Bulldawgs were able to comeback with a 10-9 win following two international tiebreaker innings against the Toledo Wizards Elite. The dramatic win would send them into the championship game.

In the championship game, the Bulldawgs trailing 5-1 in the third inning to the Philadelphia Banshees, but were able to stay focused and rallied with the support of Bulldawg fans scoring seven unanswered runs in the final two innings to defeat the Banshees 8-5 earning them the national title. With the win, the Bulldawgs Elite are ranked number one in the state of Ohio and number 22 in the nation.

This team has consistently performed under intense pressure and circumstances throughout the season. When needed each girl answered the call and made a great play whether on defense or offense. Shearer said, “These girls have taught me that being pushed to the limit will only make you stronger and their love for this game is immeasurable.” Shearer is in his final season as head coach choked back tears of pride in congratulating his team on their winning season as he will be stepping down from head coach of the Bulldawgs ‘03 but moving on to coach in the ‘04 Bulldawgs bracket.  He will be greatly missed as he has coached these girls for many years.

Coach Miller said, “This season our coaching staff really stressed mental strength, discipline, heart, and team trust that it takes to become a championship winning team. These are the tough parts of the game to teach because it can’t just be physically shown, but throughout the season, tournament to tournament we saw the progression. And what a great payoff for all the hard work – national champs. The upcoming season sure will be different not having Coach Shearer on the field. He will definitely be missed, but more so we will miss our first baseman, Zoey Shearer. Zoey has decided to hang up the glove for now and focus on volleyball in the upcoming season. This team is more like family and it’s hard to see any go so on behalf of the team and myself, thank you for the many great years, and congratulations national champs. What a way to go out”

Coach Chamberlin, who coached Crooksville varsity baseball for 17 years, said the team displayed uncommon resiliency.”It was a special group that never quit. Six games we came back from deficits. I just think it was resilience, grit, whatever you want to call it. You call it what you want, they just never said die. They just kept plugging away until time expired.”

Tri-Valley’s Brynn Miller earned outstanding pitcher honors and Ella Morrow, from Morgan, was named most valuable player. Buckeye Trail’s Sidney Beaver was named offensive MVP.

The championship team, which boasts a record of 51-13-4, included an all-star lineup consisting of: Lacie O’Neal (Zanesville), Zoey Shearer (Philo), Lynsey Dudley (Meadowbrook), Brooklyn Ashbaugh (Heath), Logyn Chamberlain (Crooksville), Keeley Murray (Coshocton), Karli Reeves (Sheridan), Jaelyn Peterson (Zanesville), Khloe Bolin (Pickerington North).

Team tryouts for the 2018 season will be held Saturday, Aug. 5 at the Y-City Complex, 1100 Newark Road, Zanesville. Further details can be found on www.ohiobulldawgselite.com.

Category: Sports, Youth

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Article contributed to The Beacon.

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