Houston’s Post Oak making history
The tower that rises above the Post Oak Little League fields honors past champions. Whether district, section or states, if a team wins a title it will be remembered.
Look toward that tower next year and one will see one team rise above the rest. The Post Oak 12-year old all-stars have left an indelible mark on program history. A league that debuted 62 years ago now has its best team ever.
The Post Oak all-stars from Houston, Texas captured the league’s first 12-year old state championship last month and have just kept going. Now Post Oak is trying to become the world’s best team, competing at the Little League World Series.
“My boys had the opportunity to go to states a couple times and never broke through that door and this group finally broke through and we’re very proud of them,” Post Oak Little League president Todd Johnson said. “We may have to create a new monument or tower or something else for them. They will definitely be at the top and they are creating memories that will last forever, not only for themselves but for their families, too.”
Creating a legacy along with those memories has been at the heart of this team’s success. Winning a district championship ensures team’s of securing their place on Post Oak’s version of a Wall of Fame. But this team was not satisfied with just a district title. It has stayed focused on each game and has kept raising the bar, capturing Section and Texas East state championships before romping through the Southwest Regional and outscoring four teams, 43-5.
Post Oak entered the Series undefeated, overcoming difficult tournament fields at every stop. That included having to get through three-time Series qualifier and perennial Houston power Pearland twice in the Section 3 tournament. They have not only made history, but these all-stars have also set a new standard.
“Really, the first goal was to get their banner up there so they could always see their names up there. Having their names on the banner is a big deal for them,” Post Oak manager David Rook said. “Being the first team to win states set a high bar and to be the first winning the region is incredible. Every win is making history for Post Oak.”
This group also made history by becoming the first Post Oak team to win district champions at 10, 11 and 12. Post Oak captured the 10-year old state championship but lost in the Section final a year later against Pearland. Ultimately, that loss might have been a blessing. It gave an already talented, disciplined team some extra incentive and Post Oak overwhelmed the competition en route to reaching the Series.
Post Oak overcame some challenges in sections and states, but made quick work of their Southwest opponents, winning four straight blowouts and blanking Oklahoma, 8-0 in the final. That win highlighted what makes the team so good as every player did his part from Ryan Selvaggi throwing four no-hit innings, Richie Klosek hitting a 2-run home run and reserve Cade West driving in three runs.
“One thing hit me (in the Southwest final) was watching Carter Pitts pitch and smiling as he was trying to get the last outs. In tight situations these players are really loose,” Post Oak Major Division coordinator Ramsey Evans said. “They remind me of the Astros in that way because they are cutting it up and having fun when the stress was highest. That helps a lot.”
This team exudes a calm demeanor but it approaches each challenge with laser-like focus. One reason players are able to stay calm under duress is because they are prepared so well. Practices are fun, but also richly productive. There is no wasted time and no athlete takes a play or a pitch off. Post Oak is immensely talented, but so are many other Little League teams. The ability to stay calm but play like a team on a mission creates some powerful intangibles.
Put it all together and one has a team that is sharing headlines with the world champion Houston Astros back home. Put it together and one has a team that possesses a big-like work ethic.
“They all work their butts off for that one opportunity. Whenever their name is called they are ready to go,” said Evans who has coached some of these all-stars in the past. “They talk about going on a business trip. When they get to work they go to work. When they’re working on anything, the expectation is they are having fun but they don’t take it to where distracts from what they are doing.”
“The chemistry sticks out and they all understand their roles,” Rook said. “The boys buy in and understand what team concept means. We are right up front with that so there are no negative issues. They know this is my role on this team and are happy with it. We tell them there are no asterisk next to anyone’s name on the tower. Your name is on there for contributing to the team.”
This historic run can only help Post Oak moving forward. The 11-year old all-stars attended the Southwest Regional and now understand the Little League World Series is not just a pipe dream. It is attainable. Winning states was a tremendous achievement, but Post Oak keeps going. And even if that championship tower did not exist, this Post Oak team would still be one that its community never forgets.
“I’m getting more emails now than I ever did when the regular season was going on because my staff and volunteers and coaches did such a good job making sure there were no complaints. All the emails are positive, but it’s definitely more than ever before now. They already have kids asking them for autographs.
“It’s an extremely special time for the league.”