In the display case of Webb City Junior High School, you’ll find an interesting display: memorabilia and jerseys of Little Leaguers.
That’s by design.
Walking those hallways, of course, are boys who could be the next to take the city’s youth team to a quaint hamlet in Pennsylvania called Williamsport.
In other words, the 2002 & 2015 Webb City Little League World Series Teams continue to inspire, and their success is why the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame proudly inducted them with the Class of 2023.
Only three teams from Missouri have ever reached the prestigious Little League World Series, and two are from Webb City. Its 2002 team finished 13-3 by going undefeated in four games at the district tournament, the state tournament and the regional.
Playing as the Midwest representative, Webb City came incredibly close to expanding on its Williamsport, Pa., trip, as its losses were only 1-0, 2-1 and 2-1.
Players were Darren Aggus, Caleb Powell, Brett Richardson, Jerick Swarens, Alan Pink, Preston Walker, Chance Sossamon, Dakota Miller, Landon Zerkel, Jordan Hickman and Jayrd Gregory. That team was coached by Craig Powell, Matt Sossamon, Kenny Zerkel and Burle Sossamon.
The 2015 team was 15-4, including 7-1 in districts, 3-0 at the state tournament and 4-1 in regionals. Webb City lost to Pennsylvania (the eventual LLWS runner-up to Japan) and Rhode Island but beat Canada and was awarded the Jack Losch LLWS Sportsmanship Award.
The team included Jaxson Cartright, Kamdyn Culver, Mekhi Garrard, Cole Gayman, Eli Goddard, Brett Graham, Cale McCallister, Noah Mitchell, Treghan Parker, Blake Smith, Jaystin Smith, Devrin Weathers and Matt Woodmansee. Coaches were Eric Parker, Jason Woodmansee and Tyler Burgess.
Overall, their collective story is one of young ballplayers converging at King Jack Park in the summers, former all-star teams and competing in the official Little League.
Little League is a national organization that encompasses 6,500 communities across the country that includes baseball and softball teams and holds its baseball World Series in Williamsport every August. Webb City has been affiliated for several decades.
In 2002, the town was abuzz about its 11- to 12-year-old boys on the all-star team. That team advanced to the Midwest Regional in Indianapolis, went 4-0 in pool play and then beat Grandview of Des Moines, Iowa 2-1 to advance to Williamsport.
Caleb Powell’s lined double scored Darren Aggus in the bottom of the sixth inning was the difference that day, marking Webb City’s sixth consecutive win. Aggus pitched six innings.
“This is the best day of my life,” Powell told the Joplin Globe. “It’s awesome to be going to Williamsport.”
What a trip it was. Players and coaches still talk about hopping on a 3:30 AM flight from Indianapolis to Pittsburgh, and then taking a puddle-jumper to Williamsport.
The close losses only reinforced that Webb City belonged on the big stage. The team allowed only five runs.
“Five runs in three games is nothing to hang your head about,” Coach Craig Powell was quoted as saying. “We very well could have been 3-0.”
In 2015, a new group of Webb City Little Leaguers surged their way to Williamsport, this time with a 10-0 victory against Minnesota in the Midwest Regional final.
Cale McCallister, Devrin Weathers, Blake Smith and Cole Gayman – the team’s top of the order – were a combined 36-for-66 (.545) and drove in 27 of the team’s 34 runs. McCallister threw nine innings in three games, striking out 10, and Weathers also worked nine innings, striking out 15 batters.
To reach Williamsport, Webb City bounced back from a 3-2 loss to Nebraska by rallying for a 11-3 win against Iowa, thanks to Jaystin Smith’s pinch home run breaking a 1-1 tie. They then beat Nebraska 15-4 in the regional semifinals, and Canyon Lake of South Dakota 13-2.
It was a tough go in Williamsport, but Webb City went out with a victory, an 18-6 victory aginast White Rock, British Columbia. That team will always have the LLWS Sportsmanship Award.
“It’s very, very special because all 16 teams vote on it,” Webb City manager Eric Parker said at the time. “Our team uncle (host) said it’s very rare for a U.S. team to win it. … I’m more proud of that that any win. It exemplifies the way we teach the boys to act and have them play the game the right way and how to conduct themselves. It’s pretty special.”