BRATTLEBORO — An undefeated season is truly a rare occurrence. Brattleboro Little League's Athletics defied the odds to go 15-0 in 2016. Led by veterans Zinabu McNeice, Alex Bingham, Morgan VanIderstine and slew of talented youngsters, the A's truly were the class of the league.
The A's thrived in finding different ways to win ball games. Power hitting won a fair share of the games. However, in a classic pitchers' duel, the Athletics beat the vaunted Cardinals in a classic. Down to their final out on three occasions, the A's battled back to win 5-4 in extra innings. The unlikely hero of that game was 9-year-old catcher Alex McClelland who hit a walk-off single in the eighth inning.
Mclelland was just one of several rookies who excelled despite inexperience. Keagan Systo, Bronson Finnell, Brandon Weeks, and Cameron Cruz all showed defensive versatility and great plate discipline. Thomas Bell, another rookie, dealt with the adversity of an early season injury and finished the season strong.
Second-year players Karson Elliot, Charlie Clark and Josh McKenney played key spots as well. Elliot and McKenney provided pitching depth and timely hitting. Clark played steady defense and was the table-setter in a powerful lineup.
Bingham and McNeice produced with the bats and on the mound. The former had three home runs while the latter slugged a league-leading 10 roundtrippers. They also served as co-aces and played key positions up the middle when not on the mound.
All great teams rely on steady coaching. Manager Michael Bingham and assistants Eugene "Boober" Frost and Ryan McClelland kept the clubhouse fun while teaching the nuances of the game.
The 2016 season was a special one for these A's. It's one unlikely to be repeated but with the young core and masterful coaching of this ball club, it could come as soon as next year.