Little League Allstars are a way of life for many young Montana baseball players, but for a select few in Missoula, they have another chance to play baseball against some of the top competition in the region, by playing for a team comprised of the best players on those Little League all-star teams, they are the Missoula Mud-Dawgs.
Being a travel team, the Mud-Dawgs U-11 team have very few home-games, and spend most of their weekends on the road, which can be a little daunting for some, but for most, it's a fun chance to play the sport they love with their friends in new places.
"Sometimes people get nervous, and some people are just really excited, like I'm really excited all the time," says Mud Dawgs third Baseman Drew Stensrud.
"We always have fun at hotels, and swim together, we always do little handshakes and stuff," says first baseman and pitcher Jett Kliber.
Because all the players are still participating in Little League all-stars, the Mud-Dawg practices have to be sharp and focused, which is evident with the teams favorite drill, which they call 'macho libre.'
"You're handling the chaos of everybody running and throwing the ball, and not trying to get hit," says second baseman Jacob Lintner.
The Mud-Dawgs are making history, or at least they will in August of next year, as the first Montana team to compete in Cooperstown, New York for the American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame invitational tournament. Something that even at a young age, the team appreciates.
"It's like a once in a lifetime opportunity, I think we'll play the best teams in the country, and we're one of those teams now," says Kliber.
"It's really awesome, because like you said, we're the first, and they don't expect a small town like us to compete there," says Lintner
"That's what we want, We want to come up and surprise everybody, and this is a really good ball-club," says coach Drew Kliber.
If you ever attend a Mud-Dawgs game, you'll hear a unique pre-game ritual.
"The origin of that is a World War 2 battle chant, so I'm just trying to get them pumped up and ready for the game," says Lintner.
"It's all about how you work hard, how I have your back, you have my back, and we're going to fight through this. And how there are good times and bad times during a game, and it lets the kids know that they are all here together as a team, and it lets the other team know that we aren't going anywhere, and they'll have a fight on their hands if they're going to beat us," says coach Kliber.