Puyallup: Sports

Cal Ripken Jr. 12U team wins first state title, reaches NW tournament

The Puyallup Cal Ripken Jr. 12U baseball team included Andreas Oliver (outfield, pitcher), Anthony Pizl (utility), James Nelson (infield, P), Talon Keizer (INF, P), Owen Sokso (catcher, OF, P), Scotty Diener (OF), Gavin Christian (OF, P), Cameron Beck (C, P), Brady Burnett (P, UTL), Hayden Foerster (INF, OF), Zach Gendreau (INF, P) and Lane Hagen (P, UTL).
The Puyallup Cal Ripken Jr. 12U baseball team included Andreas Oliver (outfield, pitcher), Anthony Pizl (utility), James Nelson (infield, P), Talon Keizer (INF, P), Owen Sokso (catcher, OF, P), Scotty Diener (OF), Gavin Christian (OF, P), Cameron Beck (C, P), Brady Burnett (P, UTL), Hayden Foerster (INF, OF), Zach Gendreau (INF, P) and Lane Hagen (P, UTL). Courtesy

For years they were the luckless wonders of youth baseball who spent far too many games on the wrong side of the win-loss column.

They were underdogs of Puyallup-area youth baseball.

But in the end, the Puyallup Cal Ripken Jr. 12U baseball team’s run resulted in a championship.

“It was just a big push. We’ve been going at it for years, and we didn’t do well for the last three years. We got beat (seemingly) every time,” infielder/pitcher Talon Keizer said. “But this year, we went undefeated and started beating those (same) teams in the tournament. We went out with a bang.”

It was just a big push, and we’ve been going at it for years, and we didn’t do well for the last three years. We got beat (seemingly) every time. But this year, we went undefeated and started beating those (same) teams in the tournament. We went out with a bang.

Talon Kaizer

After years of building up the team chemistry, the Puyallup 12U team was able to win the Southern Washington Cal Ripken State Tournament in Kelso on July 16, becoming the first Puyallup team to do so in the program’s history.

The title was years in the making for Andreas Oliver (outfield, pitcher), Anthony Pizl (utility), James Nelson (infield, P), Talon Keizer (INF, P), Owen Sokso (catcher, OF, P), Scotty Diener (OF), Gavin Christian (OF, P), Cameron Beck (C, P), Brady Burnett (P, UTL), Hayden Foerster (INF, OF), Zach Gendreau (INF, P) and Lane Hagen (P, UTL).

“The state title was a testament to the players coming in to work together towards a goal they each wanted. We told them they had to want to get better, and want to work together,” coach Rian Keizer said. “My coaches (assistants Jake Nelson and Jamie Burnett) worked hard with boys to build that relationship throughout the year, trying to get them to where we believed they could go. But it took those boys to believe it in themselves first.”

It’s probably the biggest the success my team could have had. We didn’t win regionals, but it was huge to win state. It’s not that big of a deal losing regionals. (What was) really sad was that it was probably the last time we played as a team.

Brady Burnett

The 12U team reached the Pacific Northwest Regionals with their state-title win, but after falling to a 1-3 record in the tournament, the boys were unable to advance to the World Series in Florida. The PNW Regionals marked the last time this group of boys would play together.

“It’s probably the biggest the success my team could have had. We didn’t win regionals, but it was huge to win state. It’s not that big of a deal losing (in) regionals,” Brady Burnett said. “(What was) really sad was that it was probably the last time we played as a team. But we’ll probably play each other in the future.”

With so many hours together — and many more memories created on the diamond — it will be hard for this team to break up.

“Just being able to be in the dugout with everybody, and just screwing around right before regionals, like playing basketball before the games” is what Anthony Pizl remembered most about the season.

But what these players have done is a stark reminder of where these boys can go in the future, how much more they still have to grow in order to reach their own personal potential. With the team breaking up and spread out to all three high schools, there will be a time when each of these boys join each other on the field again.

Only then it won’t be as teammates — not all of them — but as rivals.

It’s just going to be different (leaving each other), because joining a new team we won’t have the same chemistry the same way. But we’ll still see each other down the road, we’ll still have social media (to keep in touch). We’ll always have that personal connection.

James Nelson

“It’s just going to be different (leaving each other), because joining a new team we won’t have the same chemistry the same way,” James Nelson said. “But we’ll still see each other down the road. We’ll still have social media (to keep in touch). We’ll always have that personal connection.”

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