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Diamond Dawgs win state title
9/14/2011 4:11:00 PM
By Kyle Shaner
After a couple year drought of not winning a state title, the Diamond Dawgs brought a state championship home this past weekend for the Darke County Special Olympics program.
The Diamond Dawgs won the Division I Special Olympics softball state championship Saturday in Oregon. While most of the team’s players had played before, this was the first year they joined together to form the Diamond Dawgs – the county’s third Special Olympics softball team.
Darke County’s other two Special Olympics softball teams – the Sluggers and Warriors – also competed at the state tournament.
It was exciting to see the Diamond Dawgs win the state championship, Darke County Special Olympics Director Cindy Rose said.
“I think the Diamond Dawgs really wanted to bring a championship back,” she said.
The Diamond Dawgs, one of Darke County’s adult teams, won the Division I state championship by beating the Franklin Northwest Superstars in the semifinals and then beating the Stark Public Royal Knights in the championship game.
Ten of their 12 players had gone to state before, but they still started out a little slow as they had some jitters, Rose said.
“Once they got the jitters out and just calmed down and played, it was exciting to be at the end winning,” she said.
The Sluggers, the school-age team, finished fourth in Division II. They lost to Lake Deepwood in the semifinals and then lost to the Huron Special Olympics Bears in the consolation game.
The Sluggers were on cloud nine just making it to state, Rose said. They never gave up and played hard the entire tournament, she said.
“The Sluggers from the first practice in the middle of July to Sept. 10 in the state tournament just improved and it was exciting to see them get better and better,” Rose said. “I’m so proud.”
The Warriors, the other adult team, placed third in Division III. After losing their semifinal game to Medina Flash, they beat the Sandusky Rebels in the consolation game.
By finishing in the top three, the Warriors earned medals from the state tournament.
“It was exciting to get a medal,” Rose said. “It’s fun to come away from the state tournament with a medal.”
It was an unbelievable experience taking all three teams to state, Rose said. The players all supported each other and had a great day of softball, she said.
A combination of community support, family, fans, coaches, players, history, tradition and pride all have helped to make Darke County’s Special Olympics softball program so successful, Rose said.
“We’ve had great success with our softball program,” she said. “All those come together to make the program successful.”
Rose also said the success isn’t just in the wins and losses but also is in the growth of the players.
Some of the players already were talking on Saturday about making it make to state next year, Rose said. Some of them also are gearing up for the basketball season, which is the program’s next team sport. Some of the adults also will compete in swimming and bowling in the upcoming months.
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