The Ferndale 12U baseball team’s run to the Cal Ripken 60 Worlds Series championship featured one dramatic play after another. From pitchers registering key strikeouts to late-game grand slam heroics, there was no shortage of top plays to choose from. But for head coach Bill Hatchett, the title is almost an afterthought compared to simply getting the opportunity to watch his son, Landen, and his son’s teammates experience the game at that level.
“There are obviously quite a few on-the-field memories that stick out; clutch pitching performances, hitting five home runs in one day, the pure joy of happy tears being shed after wins,” Bill Hatchett said, “but really what sticks out most to me is sitting back and just watching Landen enjoy the game with his really good friends and all the hours and hours of off-the-field fun time my son and his group of friends had together.”
Powered by an offensive onslaught, Ferndale captured the 12-and-under World Series championship with a 6-4 victory over Middle Atlantic Region titlist Cedar Cliff of Pennsylvania in the tournament finals in Clemmons, North Carolina.
Ferndale finished its historic season with a record of 35-2.
“[The coaching staff] saw the majority of this group of kids come together around age 9 and we could tell then they were a special group talent wise,” said Bill Hatchett, who also serves as a police officer for the Ferndale Police Department. “Everything kind of builds to that 12-year-old year and for your son to be a part of what this team did with the rest of his teammates is really special. It’s so fun to see the whole experience through his eyes.”
Joining Landen Hatchett on the team was Tipton Bundy, Isaiah Carlson, Giovanni Contreras, Andrew James, Hunter Jones, Jordan Mason, Jacob Mason, Sean Morrison, Lane Oostra, Dylan Strom and Conner Walker.
Ferndale was an offensive juggernaut in World Series play, averaging 10 runs a game with a team batting average of .432. The squad, which outscored opponents, 70-25, over their seven series games, belted 19 total home runs, getting five each from Strom and Carlson, three a piece from James and Jordan Mason, two from Jacob Mason and one from Landen Hatchett.
“The two things that stick out to me personally are the homeruns I hit in the first game against Cedar Cliff to take the lead, which ended up being our only run of that game, and pitching against the team from Arkansas,” Landen Hatchett said. “One of the biggest moments that sticks out to me overall was Dylan Strom’s grand slam home run in the championship game.”
Jacob Mason got Ferndale on the scoreboard in the championship game with a solo homerun in the second inning, while Strom added a grand slam in the fifth.
The team also received two hits, including a double, from Carlson, a run-scoring single from Landen Hatchett and hits from James, Contreras and Jordan Mason in their title-clinching victory.
The championship game win avenged an early defeat to Cedar Cliff as Ferndale opened World Series pool play with a race loss, falling to Cedar Cliff, 7-1.
The team responded to the loss by winning its next three games in pool play, outscoring their opponents a combined 40-5, before defeating Ohio Valley Region champion Crownpoint of Indiana, 12-2, in the quarterfinals and New England Region champion Washington Park of Rhode Island, 11-7, in the semifinals.
“The return home was pretty fun, like our team getting announced on the airplane. And definitely getting into Ferndale was pretty cool,” Landen Hatchett said. “There were lots of people on the side of the road so we got out of the vans and walked down Main Street. We kind of took over an intersection for a couple minutes and had a party with all the people from Ferndale right in the middle of the road. There was a police car and fire truck lights and sirens going off. I will always remember that.”
Ferndale also won the Northern Washington state championship earlier in the season and secured its place in the World Series by claiming the Northwest Regional Tournament crown at the end of July in Meridian, Idaho.
Bill Hatchett, who was joined on the coaching staff by Dean Oostra and Hank Schwarz, began coaching his son six years ago and was an assistant coach on his son’s team the previous three seasons before assuming the head coaching positon this year. He also coached his oldest son, Geirean, and will coach youngest son, Chance, next season.
“Being coached by your dad can be hard sometimes but it’s also really fun,” Landen Hatchett said. “I think having my dad as the coach made winning the championship more special.”