by nathan oster
Williamsport is thousands of miles away from Wyoming — but you could forgive the Little Leaguers in this state if it seems as far away as the moon. After all, no team from the Cowboy State has ever made it to the Little League World Series, held at the end of every summer in that small Pennsylvania city.
For teams around the state, this year’s journey is about to begin. Big Horn County will be sending an all-star team of 11- and 12-year-old to Green River this week — and four players from Greybull will be on it. They include Carlos Rodriguez, Cale Wright and Cade Cooper, all 12, and Coby Henderson, 11. Ryan Mangus manages the team, but one of his assistants is Ken Wright, who coached the four players during the regular season.
The all-star team has had several “friendlies” as a way of tuning up for the postseason
A few weeks back, they drubbed a traveling team from Billings, Mont., sweeping a doubleheader by scores of 22-0 and 15-5. On Sunday, they split a pair in Johnson County, beating the Buffalo all-stars 6-3 before losing, in walk-off fashion, to the Sheridan all-stars 5-4.
Mangus said the four players from Greybull “have a nice approach to the game. You can tell that they’ve been well coached by Ken.”
Each is playing a key role, Mangus said. Rodriguez is one of the team’s best pitchers and hitters. When he isn’t on the hill, he’s behind the dish. “He’s so strong and has a very high baseball IQ,” said Mangus.
Wright pitches and plays third base, Cooper also pitches and plays first base and Henderson usually gets penciled in the outfield.
Mangus said the Big Horn County team is scheduled to play Bridger Valley in the opening round of the district tournament in Green River. Game time was at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday night. A win would send the Big Horn County club into a matchup with Powell.
Other teams in attendance include Cody, Green River, Rock Springs, Kemmerer, Lander and Riverton. Riverton and Cody are the favorites going in, Mangus said, “but I truly believe we are right up there with them.”
The top two teams advance to the state tournament, and the winner of the state tournament advances to the regional in San Bernadino, Calif., which is the final round before the Little League World Series.