Tournaments : : Story
KC Bullets make deep run at Kernels Champ
Published: Monday, September 20, 2010
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Dale Reed seems like an easy going sort of fellow, a no-nonsense guy with a love of baseball and an appreciation of all the positive character traits the game can develop in young players.
As the manager and operator of KC Bullets Baseball, based in Olathe, Kan., Reed brought his 18U Bullets team to the Perfect Game WWBA Kernels Foundation Championship Friday through Monday (Sept. 17-20).
The Bullets used tremendous pitching from four pitchers to go 3-0 in pool play and win their quarterfinal round game in the playoffs before losing to Reds Midwest Scout Team, 4-2, in the semifinals at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
When he’s not managing KC Bullets Baseball, Reed holds the rank of major at the Johnson County (Kan.) sheriff’s department, an organization that includes about 600 officers.
Coaching college-prep level baseball is his self-proclaimed “hobby” but he also tries to instill in his young players the same ethics he instills in the officers serving under him at the sheriff’s department.
“I try to focus on discipline and respect and treating people fair,” Reed said before Monday’s semifinal game. “In turn, I think the players respond real well to that.”
His players certainly responded to Reed’s lessons imrpessively while playing here the past three days.
Right-hander Nathan Shores (2011, Park Hill, Mo.) shutout Upper Deck Cougars, 5-0, in the first game of pool play; righty Brennan Burns (2011, Overland Park, Kan.) followed suit with a 3-0 shutout of Motor City Pride in the second game; and right-hander Jake Slocum (2011, Independence, Mo.) certainly pitched well in a 4-1 win over Hitters Baseball in game three.
Left-hander Jackson Rowe (2011, Overland Park, Kan.) provided the capper when he shutdown the St. Louis Pirates in a 1-0 win in the quarterfinals.
The sprint to the semifinals of the 40-team tournament didn’t really surprise Reed.
“We travel around and we play some of the (Kansas) junior colleges,” he said. “We’ve played three or four very good junior college programs and we competed against those programs. I expected to come out here and be able to compete, but whether we were on the winning edge of all that, who knows?”
This was the first Perfect Game event Reed has brought his team to, although most of the players had participated in PG events with other teams or at individual showcases.
The tournament was plagued by rain during pool play on Saturday and Sunday. Some of the fields scheduled to host games were deemed unplayable and the schedule was ultimately streamlined.
But everyone managed to persevere, and the rain didn’t dampen Reed’s excitement about being at the PG event.
“There’s been a lot of hurry-up-and-wait and see when you play, but that’s part of baseball,” he said. “All the kids who have been here have been really good about it.
“It’s been a very good experience. I wouldn’t change anything. We’ve been fortunate that we’ve gotten our games in, we’ve played good teams and fortunately we’ve done well.”
The KC Bullets have been operating at the college-prep level for five years. Before that, Reed worked with younger kids and developed a core set of players that could advance to the college-prep level and stay there.
The KC Bullets team that played at the PG WWBA Kernels Foundation Championship was just put together at the end of August when Reed started his fall program. The Kernels Foundation Championship was the first Perfect Game USA event the KC Bullets had attended.
The Bullets best player is catcher/utility player Tyler Baker (2011, Topeka, Kan.). Ranked the 428th top prospect nationally and seventh in the state of Kansas by Perfect Game, he has already committed to Wichita State University.
“He’s very solid,” Reed said of Baker. “He’s a great kid, and he doesn’t care where he plays as long as he’s between those white lines and he’s got a stick in his hands. He can pretty much play anywhere. There’s not a lot of players like Tyler Baker. He’s a special kid.”
Coincidentally, Baker played for the Reds Midwest Scout Team in two Perfect Game events last year.
He played at the 2009 PG WWBA Kernels Foundation Championship at Perfect Game Field at Veterans Memorial Stadium, which the Reds won. That enabled Baker to travel with the Reds to the ’09 PG WWBA World Championship in Jupiter, Fla.
He enjoyed his return to Perfect Game Field this weekend.
“It’s been really good. We’re playing really well,” Baker said before the semifinal loss.
Having already committed to Wichita State, Baker no longer needs to be noticed by college coaches. There are other considerations that factor into his decision to attend Perfect Game events, besides the fact he just loves to play baseball.
“There are still pro scouts out there watching, too, so you can get in front of those guys,” Baker said. “You can your name out there even more.”
Getting kids names out there is why Reed will continue to bring KC Bullets Baseball teams to Perfect Game events.
“My primary focus is to try to take kids and get them exposed as much as possible,” Reed said. “There are various levels and different coaches look for different things. I’ve got a group of kids that I think all have something to offer at the college level. It depends on how they improve and perform and do their thing.”
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