Missoula Mud Dawgs Ready for Cooperstown Tournament
The Missoula Mud Dawgs are a travel baseball team comprised of kids who are mostly 12 years old. Coming into their second season as a club, the team had high expectations…but struggled out of the gate in some of their early season tournaments, even failing to win a game in their first one.
"The first couple tournaments we didn't do so well. But then the pitching started going, and we got the bats going, and in the last stretch of games games we're 17-5-1," says Mud Dawgs short stop Zack Tyree.
"Those teams have been playing all year because it was warmer there, but we've managed to stay with them and get better as we play," adds Mud Dawgs outfielder Jace Dewalt.
The Mud Dawgs may not have even reached their teenage years yet, but they travel like major leaguers.
"One of the dads told me that we're basically putting 16,000 miles that we've traveled this year. We've been to St. George, Salt Lake, Moses Lake, Pocatello, Idaho Falls, Spokane twice, we go to Yakima in two weeks, and then we go to Cooperstown," says Mud Dawgs coach Drew Kliber.
While many of the players are just 12 years old, even they notice the maturity level has changed from just a season ago.
"When we lost we got mad at each other, but now we're learning that we make mistakes, and we know what they are, now it's just like 'you're okay, get the next one' It's fun to learn how everyone is, their personalities and that kind of stuff," says Tyree.
Improved and matured, the Mud Dawgs get the opportunity to play in Cooperstown New York at the start of August to play against some of the nations best teams.
"They told us that we're the first Montana team ever to go, so I'm pretty excited about that, and we get to do a lot of fun things there, go see a Yankees game after Cooperstown, so it'll be a lot of fun," adds Tradd Richardson, the Mud Dawgs Catcher.
"We're thinking we're just as good, but this is an opportunity we don't want to spoil, and we'll have fun with it," says Dewalt .
While the Mud Dawgs have played and done well against some of the best in the region, they do realize they could be viewed as underdogs, coming from Montana and going up against teams from major metropolitan areas, and that's just fine with them.
"Hopefully being the underdogs, we'll play some teams, and other teams will look at their schedule and say 'oh man, we have to play the Mud Dawgs now," That's our goal. Being an underdog is okay, because it makes it even greater when you start doing good," says Tyree.