While many kids their age are thinking of heading back to school, the Schererville Shock 13-year-old baseball team is thinking about their trip to the Babe Ruth World Series in Bremerton, Washington.
The Shock are the first travel team from Schererville to ever qualify for a World Series and the first Babe Ruth team from Northwest Indiana.
"I'm really looking forward to it," pitcher Ben Nisle said. "There's going to be new teams that we play and probably really good competition. It'll be good for us."
The Shock advance to the World Series as champions of the Ohio Valley Regional. Schererville overcame rival South Eastern Lexington, Ky., which had beaten the Shock the last three seasons.
"It was a relief getting past a nemesis of ours," Shock manager Dan Bosold said. "It was mostly a one-way rivalry. They owned us."
The Shock lost to South Eastern Lexington early in the tournament, but after squandering a large lead and a game they had in hand, Schererville knew they could overcome their nemesis.
"To me, that was a turning point in our season," Bosold said. "When they had them and let them slip away, they knew it was our turn. We were pretty battle tested to be able to win two against a team that had already beaten us in the tournament."
The Shock are led by pitchers Nisle, Joe Graziano, and Patrick Reardon. The team will be looking to rely on their pitching and defense if it is going to be successful in Washington.
Nisle is also the heart of the Shock offense, hitting over .500 on the season, and he's the defensive difference up the middle at shortstop and in center field when he is not on the mound.
"I'll have to pitch good and hit my spots," Nisle said. "You've got to mix up your speeds and make sure the hitters don't know what's coming the next pitch. Then you have to keep going from there."
The Shock will be getting back Bo Hofstra, who had missed the Ohio Valley Regional with an injury.
"I thought it was pretty cool because we all have to miss the first week of school," Graziano said. "Nobody wants to go to school early when you can come in a week late. And we get to meet some other good teams out there."
The Shock will open play Wednesday against the North Washington state champs, Skagit Valley. The first five days of the tournament will include four games for each of the 10 teams. At the end of pool play, the top three teams from two divisions will advance to a six-team single elimination tournament beginning Aug. 20.
"We need to come out like each team is the best team we've ever played," Graziano said. "If we pitch well and we hit well, we'll be fine."