Diamond Dawgs

June 10, 2003 12:00 am

Wow.

Two years ago we were scanning maps of Montana and California, picking out town names and wondering if softball diamonds are the same wherever the game is played.

The murmur around town also begged to be answered: What happens when the state champion junior and senior softball all-stars hit high school?

Saturday, the answer came in a sweltering finale to a sweet season: A state second-place trophy for a young team bested by a breath in a grueling game that ended 1-0.

The sudden success is in part a testament to the players and their drive.

Standing just outside the foul lines, however, are the parents and volunteer coaches who have built Baker's softball program from almost nothing to second in state in the span of barely a decade.

Let's face it: Lance Armstrong rides a bike far more than three weeks in France. So, too, does today's varsity softball team play more than just a spring high school schedule, traveling extensively in support of their all-star campaigns and becoming accustomed to the rigors of the road and tournament play.

But, for all of this, Baker's program failed to create a squadron of softball soldiers, marching emotionless towards victory.

It built the program's most successful team ever, yes. But a team that supports itself with spirit so evident that other teams and coaches readily recognize the unity and pride.

Congratulations — for bringing home a trophy, yes, but also for bringing up the level of dedication and teamwork a team can exhibit when it works together.