KOKOMO — From the looks of it, at least half of Alexandria made the hour-plus trip north Saturday to watch the varsity baseball team win the Class 2A North Semistate championship at Kokomo Municipal Stadium.
But one section of that crowd stood out from the pack.
Nestled directly behind home plate, a few rows of young ball players banded together to cheer on the Tigers. The youngsters' enthusiasm certainly spilled out onto the diamond.
“It’s great, dude,” junior Cade Vernetti said. “They all look up to us. I’m close with a lot of them. We always joke around with them because we have basketball camps through the summer, and we’re always in there messing with them. It’s just fun. They’re a fun group of kids.”
Now, they'll get to take their show on the road to Victory Field in Indianapolis.
Alexandria (28-6) will play Southridge (17-8) for the Class 2A state championship either on June 18 at 8:30 p.m. The date and time will be announced soon by the IHSAA.
It's the Tigers' first trip to the state finals since winning the inaugural 2A title in 1998. And the idea of playing in the state's finest baseball facility was still setting in for the players in the moments following their 9-0 victory against Whiting (15-12).
“I don’t know if it’s settled in yet,” senior shortstop Trey Stokes said, “but I’m definitely excited and I know everybody else is, too.”
None more so than the youths behind home plate.
They represent the future of the program, and head coach Jeff Closser couldn't contain a broad smile when talking about their impact Saturday.
The kids adapted the chant from the 2000 movie “Remember the Titans” to fit their school mascot and generally made as much noise as possible while watching Alexandria pull away for the victory.
“It was awesome, man,” Closser said. “We had a great crowd, and those little guys behind the plate, I heard ’em all game long.”