South Windsor Americans have season for the ages

HARWINTON — The South Windsor Americans exceeded expectations in their 11-12 Section 2 Little League run. That is for sure.

But the team seemed to redefine its own expectations every time it took the field.

Whether by beating bitter rivals, the South Windsor Americans in pool play, winning the District 8 title, or advancing to within one win of the state championship series, the team seemed to both defy reasonable expectation while at the same time achieving unsurprising success.

“When we got to [sectionals] in Harwinton, we put together a couple wins and we thought, ‘wow we could do this,’” South Windsor manager Jason Donahue said. “We never expected to get this far. This group of kids, we really did overachieve. Robert Williams and Zach Donahue were two premier players but after that we had good ballplayers who did their job, played a role in some capacity.”

Williams was not only just the reliable and overpowering ace of the staff, he was a powerful bat in the middle of the batting order. Donahue was a solid number two, and a member of an often potent offense.

“We wanted to just get out of pool play,” the manager said. “We had a nice little run. We were feeling good about ourselves. It worked out with Robert and Zach alternating we put together a nice little run. Every night there was a different kid who was a hero. When we won the district and we thought ‘wow anything after this is gravy.’”

The team had plenty of gravy, as it enjoyed dramatic wins and incredible feats to create baseball memories to last a lifetime.

First was the aforementioned win over the South Windsor Nationals in pool play on a grand slam and stellar pitching.

When you are a team competing against your town rival,” Donahue said, “for you to beat them, it was a win not just for our group of players. I have been involved in Little League for a number of years, and every year the Americans were beat by the Nationals. When we beat them it wasn’t just for us it was for all the other kids who have come through as American leaguers. It was such a well played game everyone enjoyed it.”

Then, playing for the District title against Ellington, the Americans turned a triple play, a rare feat, particularly for Little League ball players.

And then there was the game-ending double play, with a popped up bunt and clutch throw to get a man out at second propelling South Windsor to its final two games against eventual champion Coginchaug.

“Through 50 something years of league play, only two other teams have made it this far,” Donahue said. “It’s something really good to hang your hat around. When you take a step back and reflect on what you did I don’t think many would believe we would be here. We couldn’t be happier, but we are sad for it to end.”

“They are a great group of kids. You spend so many days with these kids that they do become your own kids. It’s been fun for me to really work with them and you develop a fondness for the kids. The hard part is that we don’t go to practice tomorrow. It’s a brutal end, it just stops.”

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