MERIDIAN, Idaho — Playing at the Cal Ripken World Series is something many kids dream of, but one that few get to actually experience.
But, for the Meridian 12-U Major70 baseball team, that dream is now a reality.
"Growing up, most of us watched highlights of the World Series so getting to go there feels like a dream," said Henry Nelson, Meridian baseball player.
It's an opportunity that was taken away from them in 2020 and is now being used as extra motivation this year.
“Half of this team got to play in the 10-year-old world series in Alabama, and so coming off of that year, there were huge expectations for their 11-year-old year, and unfortunately, as we all know sports got canceled so it was very disappointing," said Meridian baseball coach Jake Hines. "But to our kids' credit, we didn’t lose our focus. They didn’t lose what their goals were which was ultimately to get to this 12-year-old World Series because it is the pinnacle tournament so it has always been a goal."
The team made it to the series after a dominating season.
"Their record was 48-5. We won six different tournaments. We won the State Championship and went 6-0, and we only gave up four or five runs," Hines said. "We went 6-0 in Regionals so 12-0 between those two tournaments, and we outscored our opponents 64-4 so they dominated, and that is a byproduct of them doing things the right way and putting the work in."
If you ask any of the players what makes this team so successful they credit their family-like bond and hard work.
"We are always having a great time, and we have fun," said player Tavin Hiaring. "They are my brothers and we are a family, but we work really hard."
Meridian is the only team from Idaho in the Cal Ripken League to win Regionals and go to the World Series.
"No other team in this valley, no other team in this state, no other team in this region gets to hang their hat on that except these guys," Hines said.
Representing the valley and the state of Idaho means a lot to the team, and it's something they hope inspires others to chase their dreams.
"It doesn’t matter where you are from, there's always a chance that you have to go to a bigger stage, even coming from Idaho. We are not a very well-known state for baseball so to do this is pretty cool," Nelson said.
Their team kicks off pool play Friday against New Hampshire at 10 a.m. MT.