FORT ASHBY - Last weekend, the Wheelhouse Arsenal organization, based out of Fort Ashby's Wheelhouse Academy, traveled to Oakdale Park in Bridgewater, in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, for the Summer Showdown Tournament.

By Chapin Jewell
Tribune Correspondent
FORT ASHBY - Last weekend, the Wheelhouse Arsenal organization, based out of Fort Ashby’s Wheelhouse Academy, traveled to Oakdale Park in Bridgewater, in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, for the Summer Showdown Tournament.  
Wheelhouse took an 8u coach pitch squad and their 10u and 11u units.  All in all, it was a highly successful weekend for the Wheelhouse Arsenal organization.
The Wheelhouse 10u organization finished with the highest honors, earning first place in the tournament with a record of 4-0. The 8u coach pitch squad had an excellent tournament, finishing with a tournament record of 3-1 and earning second place honors. The 11u squad, despite finishing with a 1-3 record, showed vast improvement on day two compared to their disappointing day one finish.
For the 10u Wheelhouse Arsenal squad, winning the tournament is one thing, but it’s the way they totally dominated the four-game weekend that is most notable. Finishing undefeated at 4-0 is impressive. Outscoring your four opponents in those games by a run tally of 45-6 is a different thing altogether.
“It was an impressive weekend for the entire 10u team. This tournament had leads and pickoffs, full scale baseball. This is the first time they have ever played that. Every player hit well and stole multiple bases,” Wheelhouse representative and former major leaguer Aaron Laffey stated.  
According to Laffey, “On the defensive side, Liam Buck threw out three base runners trying to steal, two of them in the first inning of the championship game.  A little side note is that the team we played in the championship called the kid from the team who pitched against us in the previous week’s championship game and beat us to face us. We scored five runs off him and won the championship 9-2.”
While every player contributed to the success, top performers for the Wheelhouse 10u squad in their dominating weekend performance were identified as Payton Metheny, Maddox Twigg, Travis Owens, Dylan Blank and Braden Laffey.
Metheny went 2-0 on the pitcher’s mound and hit five doubles, one triple, scored seven runs and had eight RBIs.  Maddox Twigg hit home runs and had seven RBIs. Travis Owens went 1-0 from the mound and gave up only one run, and also scored six runs and had six RBIs.  Dylan Blank scored nine runs and Braeden Laffey went 1-0 from the pitcher’s mound, giving up only one run.
For the Wheelhouse Arsenal 8u squad, their 3-1 record and second place finish can largely be attributed to two words, offensive firepower.  In their four game, Wheelhouse 8u scored a total of 52 runs in outpacing the competition.
While the entire squad contributed offensively, offensive standouts for 8u Arsenal were identified as Cage Blackburn and Lance Noel.  Blackburn hit five in the park home runs while Noel added an inside the park homer of his own.
The offensive power may lead the headlines, but there were solid defensive performances for 8u Arsenal that literally saved the day, chief among them was a game-saving catch by Jesel Crowe in the semi-final game that propelled them to the championship.
“In the semi-final game of 8u, Jesel Crowe made a running outfield catch with the bases loaded and were only up by two,” Laffey stated. “It was a game-saving catch to end the game.”
For the Wheelhouse 11u squad, while a 1-3 finish was disappointing, the overall record is not indicative of their true performance. In particular, after a dismal 0-2 day one, the Arsenal 11u squad stepped it up in game two and earned a semi-final appearance. In that game, Arsenal gave the number one seed all they could handle, but lost a touch, 6-5 game.
“They had a very tough day one going 0-2, which made them the bottom seed going into day two. On day two, however, they showed up to play and looked like a different team,” Laffey stated.  “They won 12-4 in their first game on day two to advance to the semi-final.”
According to Laffey, “They had the lead the entire game in the semi-final against the number one seed and the opposing team rallied in the sixth to beat us 6-5. But, they looked like a completely different team day two and showed they have the ability to win any tournament they play in.”
‘The top performer was Garrett VanMeter who batted 1.000 for the weekend with three home runs. Coye Resh and Bryce Gunter swung it well both days. The entire team picked it up and swung it well day two,” Laffey explained.
The Wheelhouse Arsenal is the West Virginia affiliate for the Arsenal organization, a multi-state baseball program dedicated to the development of the highest caliber baseball and softball players in the United States.
Based locally out of the Wheelhouse Academy training facility in Fort Ashby, participants are guided and trained by high-caliber experts, with no finer example than local hero Aaron Laffey who enjoyed a tremendous career in the major leagues.
In addition to training, Laffey and the Wheelhouse staff provide feedback and continuously evaluate talent at every turn, and that included last weekend at the Summer Showdown Tournament.  
“We were all at one complex, so I walked around and watched all three teams play both days,” Laffey explained.
What Laffey saw was improved performance and most importantly continued efforts for those involved to learn the game the way it should be played.  It was a successful weekend, with more to come, in the coming weeks, and the coming years.


The Wheelhouse Arsenal is the West Virginia affiliate for the Arsenal Organization, a multi-state baseball program dedicated to the development of the highest caliber baseball and softball players in the United States.