Bay Boys Beaten By Storm, But Not By Ball Clubs - - The News for South Mississippi

Bay Boys Beaten By Storm, But Not By Ball Clubs

A bunch of spunky nine year olds are the faces of Katrina. There's shortstop Jonathan Artigues.

"I lost everything in the storm," he says.

Power hitter Luke Logan.

"I lost pretty much everything in the storm," he says.

And teammate Patrick McCraney.

"I also lost everything in the storm," he says. "It made me really mad and sad."

But that anger and disappointment always seemed to disappear when McCraney and his Bay St. Louis teammates played baseball.

Gage Ladner never thought about the storm while his nine year old Cal Ripken team was going undefeated in the district and the state tournaments.

"I just forgot about the hurricane, how bad it was," Ladner says.

Ronnie Artigues coaches the state champs.

"This year is the most meaningful one we've ever had," the coach says.

It was the team's third consecutive trip to the state tournament. Last year, Bay St. Louis finished second. This year, the Bay group had lower expectations. After all, a hurricane battered players' homes. And it wrecked the Bay St. Louis baseball complex. Parents decided to take matters into their own hands. They repaired the ballpark. And the season went on as scheduled.

Not only did the Bay St. Louis nine year old team play -- it won. First a district title, and then the state crown.

For stars like McCraney, "It means almost everything."

Ask the players if they understood the significance of winning when so much around them was lost, and you get a common nine year old answer.

"Not really," says Logan, shrugging his shoulders as he answered the question.

But deep down, coach Artigues knew his team got it. And that's what made this season -- the season with players living in FEMA trailers and ballfields around Bay St. Louis in disarray -- so special.

"For me, it's the most satisfying thing since the storm that we've done," the coach says. "I've had work with volunteer groups and other things that are in the grand scheme of things probably more meaningful. But this was a lot of satisfaction to watch these boys accomplish this."

The nine year old regional tournament was supposed to be in the Bay. But Katrina wiped out too many hotel rooms. So, organizers moved it to Arkansas. The boys leave for the tournament on Wednesday.

by Brad Kessie

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