Rector Players on State Title Team
The Arkansas Venom seven-year-old travelling team, made up of young players from Rector and Paragould, captured the USSSA Class A State Championship June 30 in Heber Springs. The team is comprised Cooper Rabjohn, Drew Henderson, Samual Shipley and Kaden Avery of Rector, Davis York of West Memphis and Kooper Willis, Tanner Davis, Mason Flores, Riley Klemmer and Conner Miller of Paragould. The team is coached by Matt Rabjohn and Nate Henderson.
The Venom topped Heber Springs, 25-16, in the championship game to complete a 5-0 title run through the tournament. Rector defeated Heber Springs previously in the first round of the tourney, adding victories over Arkansas Thunder (Ozark), Arkansas Spitfire and the Benton Panthers en route to the championship contest.
The Venom fought to a 9-12 regular season record playing against much larger Class 3A competition.
"We were playing bigger cities like Jonesboro all year long," Matt Rabjohn said. "We had some ups and downs, but we were playing well at the end of the season. When they did the classifications for the state tournament, they put us in Class A, which is where we belong. The kids were playing their best baseball of the year going into the tournament, and that carried over."
The team started practice in February and began season play in March. The boys took part in around two tournaments per month, including some Cal Ripken League action.
"It takes a lot of dedication on the kids' part," Rabjohn said. "They'll be playing again in August. But, these kids really want to succeed in baseball and the travelling league helps them do that. There's a lot of work that goes into it, but the rewards are there, too."
On behalf of their young players, Henderson and Rabjohn wish to thank all of the local fans and supporters who helped make this state championship season possible.
"All the parents and supporters really made a difference," Rabjohn said. "We're a smaller community, but the support we had was second to none."