HAMMOND | Along their journey to the Cal Ripken World Series, the Opp, Ala., Bobcats showed a lot of heart.
It was only a matter of time before the umpires took notice.
The team wore heart-embroidered wristbands in memory of coach Cam Pierce's 2-year-old son Cooper, who died in a swimming pool accident last summer.
"It was something our boys decided to do when we made it to the Southeast Regional," Bobcats manager Robbie Ross said. "Cam and I have been coaching together for nine years. He has two other boys, but both are too young for this team."
The gesture was soon altered when Bobcats pitcher Tylur Schively took the mound during a regional game.
"The umpires told him he couldn't wear a wristband on the mound," Ross said, "so he took it off and placed a heart on his cap."
To stay consistent in uniform, the rest of the Bobcats placed hearts on the caps for the World Series, the first time an Opp team has made it that far.
Opp didn't make it to the WS championship bracket, but were a bump in the road for National Division winner Hammond Optimist, who suffered their lone pool-play loss to the Bobcats
"We Googled 'Hammond' and saw that we were going to a city of 80,000 people," Ross said. "We come from a town of 6,500, so we really didn't know what to expect.
"It's been a great experience. We've been overwhelmed by the hospitality of the people up here, from the people at the hotel to the people at the park and everyone from Cal Ripken."
NEXT PROJECT -- ROBOTIC DESIGNATED HITTER: The World Series opening day ceremonies featured the ingenuity of the Munster High School Robotics Club.
The club, which also goes by Munster Horsepower FIRST Team 3147, showed off its newest contraption, a robotic T-shirt launcher that fired free wardrobe to the masses in the bleachers. The distance and height of these banded-cloth shells indicated this machine was one part T-shirt launcher, two parts weapon of mass destruction.
This thing could have won the subsequent Home Run Derby competition.
"It took us about two months to put this together," said Munster senior George Asya-Broughton, who is the president of the club. "The last robot we built was a pyramid climber."
The club regularly competes in robotic competitions.
"We've done pretty well," said club adviser Catherine Mazeikas. "We hope to advance to an international competition this (school) year. That would be our World Series."