In the 56th annual Roy A. Overholt Little League tournament, Brookfield completed its sweep by taking down Western Springs 14-8 in the final game of the event on Sept. 11.
The star of the night was starting pitcher Daniel Lewis, who overcame a rocky start to pitch his way deep into the game. Lewis surrendered a ground rule double and a walk to the first two batters before giving up a three-run homerun to Western Springs’ Michael Murphy.
Head coach David Campbell huddled his team up between the first and second innings to refocus his group of 11- and 12-year-olds.
“I reminded them that we have scored so many runs this year and that we weren’t out of it,” said Campbell. “I was confident we were going to score runs, and we did just that.”
Brookfield’s players, who drove in 27 runs in the first two games of the tournament, would go on to score 14 unanswered runs. Lewis pitched 5+ innings of scoreless baseball after Murphy’s homerun and started the final inning before Will Darrah and Steven Kuda took care of the last two outs.
It was a tough break for Western Springs, who had played an extra inning game the night before against LaGrange. They went into the game with a depleted pitching staff, which struggled with its location for most of the night.
However, they did score five runs in the final frame to make things interesting. This was similar to their efforts against LaGrange, where Western Springs overcame a two-run deficit in the bottom of the eighth to advance to the championship. Ultimately, they came up short, but head coach David Sherlock wasn’t caught up with his team’s loss.
“This was our fourth game in a row and the kids were tired,” said Sherlock. “The effort from these 11- and 12-year-olds was just a lot of fun to watch. Brookfield is a great team, and it was nice seeing our kids not give up in the end.”
Brookfield celebrated their tournament win with each player and coach spraying bottles of sparkling cider on one another.
Keeping the tradition alive
The Roy A. Overholt Tournament is the second oldest tournament in Little League (the Little League World Series being the oldest). It is named after Roy Overholt who started the tournament in 1963 while his wife, Audrey Overholt, continues to be present during the annual event.
While Mrs. Overholt could not be reached when the Riverside-Brookfield Landmark called her the morning after the championship, president of Brookfield Little League, Katie Nasti, has high hopes for the tournament moving forward.
“We are just trying to keep this tradition alive for as long as we can,” said Nasti. “I’ve already been brainstorming for next year. I want to open it up to surrounding districts and get the information out there early and try to build it back up.”
According to Nasti, the tournament used to host several teams from around the area and one of her goals is to bring that tradition back by including at least eight to 10 teams in next year’s tournament.
This year’s event only consisted of six teams after scheduling conflicts got in the way of some teams being able to participate. In 2016, there were only four teams as part of the event while in 2017 and 2018, there were five teams that played in each year.
However, Nasti was adamant that she is going to do everything she can to keep the tournament alive.
“As long as I am involved, I am going to make sure we don’t let this die out,” said Nasti. “Brookfield is a baseball town. That is what we are known for.
“I really don’t want to see that change so we can keep this going for the future players but also the former board members and players who have been involved with the tournament in the past.”