Catching a dream

We all have dreams. Sometimes, they're what keep us going.

And when dreams come true ... oh my.

South Callaway High School opened in 1959. That's 53 years and a lot of sports teams trying to grab the brass ring.

This year's baseball team finally grabbed it, as the Bulldogs won the Class 2 State Championship --- and the school's first state championship in ANY sport.

For their efforts, they've been named the River Region Credit Union/KRCG Team of the Season.

Well done.

"It's an unbelievable honor, to say that we were the top sports team in the area," Bulldogs coach Jared Wood. "Our area is just chalked-full of great talent."

Indeed. But Wood, who's in his first year, was not surprised by his team's success.

"I knew we could be special the very first time we met them last summer," he said. "We had a lot of talented upperclassmen and we had a lot talented freshmen and sophomores. The possibility was there, it was just a matter of putting it together.

"Personally, for me, it's a pretty neat deal to come in my first year and do something like this. But it wasn't me. It was these kids and this community.

"They've never done this, but they've always had the hunger within them to do this. When you put the right pieces together at the right time, good things happen.

"We're just on Cloud 9 right now. We're taking this championship very seriously, because it's something the community has wanted for a long time."

This team, this coach and this community got it.

"Toward the end of the season," Wood said, "we were rolling really well and we had just as good of a chance as anybody else. There are just so many intangibles that need to fall into place, it's just so difficult."

It happened for us at the right time, the right moment."

Dax Helsel was in the right spot in the right moment in the championship game against Valle Catholic.

The Bulldogs had a 2-1 lead in the top of the sixth inning when Helsel came to bat with runners on second and third, one out.

"He's probably 5-1, maybe 95 pounds dripping wet," Wood said of the freshman.

Helsel didn't flinch at the magnitude of the moment --- he produced a two-run single, the difference in the game in the 4-3 win.

"It just goes to show that the size of the athlete doesn't matter, it's the size of the heart," Wood said. "That wasn't his only key hit of the season, he did it all the way through districts."

The Bulldogs, who ended season at 21-5, only had four seniors on the team --- Hunter Leeper, Konrad Kemper, Ben Seitz and Mitch Williams.

The game ended with Leeper --- who got the save for Smith Kemper --- throwing to catcher Kemper on a fly ball caught by Seitz.

"It was a perfect ending ... it was the way that game should have ended," Wood said.

That catch ended it, but it was another catch that preserved it.

After South Callaway had taken a 4-1 lead in the top of the sixth, Valle Catholic scored twice in the bottom of the frame to make it 4-3 and had the bases loaded with two out.

Junior first baseman Jason Kimminau --- who was coming off shoulder surgery --- then saved the game, and the dream, by snaring a line drive on a diving catch to end the inning.

"He gave everything in his being to catch that ball," Wood said. "It was absolutely fantastic ... the momentum was starting to slip away from us at that point.

"But he snatched it right back for us."

Call it catching a dream.