World Series a memorable trip for parents, too

Lisa Sebrell isn't your typical fan, anyone around a ballpark would attest to that.

A diehard baseball fan, Sebrell lends the kind of throaty support that can cut through any background buzz and carry further than the confines of any ballpark allow.

But while the mother of Medford Mustangs twins Charlie and Lewis Sebrell may stand out among the spectators, her experience in following the local American Legion AAA team throughout their final stop at the World Series in Fargo, N.D., proved no different than any of the other Mustang followers on hand.

"To go all the way to the World Series and as far as we did here, I just couldn't be prouder," said Lisa Sebrell. "And I just can't get over the support and how wonderful the people here have been. We've had North Dakota fans hanging by our side and coming two or three days in a row to follow our team because they love the kids and their spirit and how they play baseball."

The Mustangs (48-12) capped one of the more memorable summers in program history Tuesday with a runner-up finish to Berryhill Post 165. The Midland, Mich., squad proved to be the only team to beat Medford in 10 games throughout the regional and national tournaments, pinning 4-2 and 11-4 losses on the Mustangs as bookend games at the World Series.

"I think it ended fabulously. We didn't lose, we got beat," said Mike Shipley, whose son Bradey had one win, one save and a 1.29 ERA to close out four Medford games during regional and national play. "That's what it came down to, and you can hold your head high with that."

Like many, Shipley said he was very impressed with the Mustangs' unity throughout the summer.

"It's probably one of the most focused groups of Mustang players to come through in a lot of years," said Shipley, who also serves as an assistant baseball coach at North Medford High. "I've been living here my whole life and I've seen them all and this is definitely a special group because they all had the same goal. They said all year they wanted to go all the way, and they did it."

Getting there might have been easier for the players, who received assistance from the American Legion itself. For the parents, however, getting to North Dakota involved more headaches than even Lisa Sebrell readily admits she has created over the summer.

"You only have a couple days to figure it all out between the (Northwest Regional and World Series) tournaments," Sebrell said. "I thought about not going and hanging out with the parents who also couldn't go, but I just figured I've followed the kids for 15 years and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Once in North Dakota, the players and parents withstood the same roller-coaster ride that included an opening-game loss last Friday and constant game postponements brought on by rainy weather in Fargo.

"The weather was definitely not the funnest thing because we were all on standby the whole time for when our games would be," said Stephanie Maurer, whose son Matt hit .370 and posted a 2-0 pitching record and 1.12 ERA in the final two tourneys. "That was difficult but everybody just kinda rolled with it. The kids were great about it."

Given the expense, as well as the competitive nature of any player or parent, Maurer said some of the biggest tension involved making sure your team wasn't the first one eliminated from tournament play.

"You start out going, 'Gosh if we can just get to the final day,'" she said. "The first thing is you just don't want to be two and out because you feel like chumps if you do that. Then when you get to that final day and you lose, it's tough because you realize you really, really wanted to win it."

But even though that ultimate goal wasn't realized, Maurer said it didn't take long before players, parents and fans alike were able to get the full scope of what the Mustangs accomplished by finishing second out of more than 5,000 Legion baseball teams nationwide.

"We weren't as sharp as we had been today (in the championship)," she added, "but then you get that perspective and realize we were second in the nation and it was an awesome experience and the kids went away with a lot. Nobody went away in tears. Everybody was excited they got as far as they were."

Much of that credit was also doled out on the Mustangs staff, which included general manager Don Schneider, manager Sandee Kensinger and coaches Eric Austad and Ryan Hilts.

"We've had tremendous luck with our three coaches and general manager Don, who take these kids and support them like they do and give them so much exposure out there," said Dave Tygerson, whose son Garrett hit .297 in the final tourneys. "It's been a phenomenal run for the summer."

One in which parents and players alike spent the better part of Tuesday night reflecting on and sharing their own memories.

"Whether it's North or South (Medford) or Phoenix or Ashland, it's really neat to see these parents and kids come together as one big family," said Sebrell, who watched Lewis hit .429 in the tourney and Charlie pitch one scoreless inning Tuesday. "It's been a long haul — a real long haul with state and regionals and here (at the World Series) — and all the parents are crying because they don't want to let it go."

"It was all more than worth it and surpassed all my expectations," she added. "These are memories to treasure forever ... for all of us."

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail

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