Little League team reflects on California trip
TORRINGTON – It was a historic season for Torrington Little League, who made it to the Little League Mountain Regional Tournament for the first time since 1994.
Despite going 0-2, Colby Groene, Barrett Bruch and Asher Mattis are still beaming with excitement over the experience of playing at the regional tournament for a shot at the Little League World Series.
“It was a big accomplishment,” Groene said. “It was cool to make history for Torrington.”
The trio of 12-year-olds said it was an experience the players will never forget and will fuel their passion for the sport of baseball for years to come.
“Playing on the field, you have to take it all in because it was a once in a lifetime experience,” Bruch said. “You have to take it in and remember everything you did.”
“It was a really fun experience to play baseball against other boys from other states,” Mattis added.
In the team’s final practice before leaving for California, Terry Lofink, who coached the 1992 state championship team, paid this year’s squad a visit at practice.
“He came in and told us try not to be nervous and under pressure,” Bruch said. “It’s literally the same field as our field, it’s just a different place.”
Groene added, “He told us not to get to surprised about the field and go have fun. The coaches told us we were there to do something cool that no one has done in 29 years.”
In addition to that, Torrington’s three coaches – Rob Mortimore, Matt Mattis and Grant Curry – also offered up advice to the players since they had reached the regional tournament when they were their team’s age.
“They said it was going to be bigger, and the stands, you could lose the ball if you are in the outfield,” Mattis said. “They were preparing us for that.”
Once in California, Friday night’s opening ceremonies were the first and only time they stepped onto Albert E. Houghton Stadium’s field, getting to walk around the field, prior to their first game against Snow Canyon, Utah on Sunday afternoon.
“My jaw dropped about 20 inches,” Groene said. “It was so cool to be there, and the field is well kept.”
“It was super nice, and there were a lot of people there,” Mattis said. “It was breathtaking. It was the nicest field I’ve seen except for the MLB fields.”
“It was like crazy because we watched kids on TV last year and the year before that play on it, and we only dreamed of playing on it,” Bruch added. “It was pretty cool to be a part of that.”
However, for the trio of Torrington All-Stars, not only was it about the on-field competition, but it was also about making new friends and deepening the friendships they already have.
“It was an experience that I will remember forever,” Bruch said. “To do it with all my friends that were on team was pretty cool.”
“Everyone was super cool, especially the Hawaii kids. They were funny,” Mattis said. “It was cool to meet kids from Idaho, Utah, Montana, Washington and Alaska.”
“The experience was really cool,” Groene said. “The funniest part was getting to play with my teammates and building that team relationship.”
They were able to trade and collect pins with other teams. The all-stars were able to utilize the pool at the Little League complex. They visited Universal Studios. They attended some of the other Little League games going on at the same field, and even took in a Los Angeles Angels game prior to returning to Wyoming.
For Bruch, Mattis and Groene, the 2023 season was the final season as a member of the Torrington Little League as they will be moving up the ranks into the Torrington Tiger Legion program next summer.
“It’s exciting because we have so much more baseball to play, and that’s just the beginning of what we can do,” Bruch said. “Now we know we can win a state championship, and hopefully, we can go get a few more.”
The trio helped raise the bar for future Torrington Little League seasons.
“I hope some other teams will as good as us and set the bar higher than us,” Groene said.