Get ready for the first annual Splinter Fest Wood Bat Tournament

FREMONT COUNTY – While the Senior Babe Ruth and American Legion baseball seasons wind down around the state there are two local teams, sponsored by 307 Baseball Academy, that will be continuing the baseball excitement this weekend with their own home tournaments–one in Lander and one in Riverton.

The River City Trash Pandas, who practice and play at the former Senior Babe Ruth stadium right across from the Riverton Middle School, and the Dirtbags 12U team, who practice and play at the little league park in Lander City Park, both host their own slew of games this weekend in their first annual Splinter Fest Wood Bat Tournament. 

Both teams will be on their own fields during Saturday, July 9th, and Sunday, July 10th, playing some of the biggest and best teams in their age range from around the state of Wyoming.

For the Trash Pandas, in their third season, this is a big step forward for not just the kids playing or the coaches in the dugout but for the 307 Baseball Academy in general.

“This is a big step forward for our program,” Trash Pandas head coach Dave Jost said about the tournament, “a home tournament with some of the best teams from Wyoming shows that we’ve made the jump from showing up at a tournament to inviting the talent…and continuing to develop good relationships with the programs that set the bar here in our state.”

As far as the Dirtbags go, this is their first year playing and their first home tournament which is a huge deal for coach Jared Mowrey and his young 12U team but, to him and his team, it’s just another chance to play baseball which is what it’s always been about.

Dirtbags player Collin Thompson waited for the ball to come his way at shortstop in a previous game

“We are just excited to watch this young bunch play some baseball and be on our home field,” coach Mowrey said, “we are looking forward to some good, new competition.”

The Trash Pandas have had an up and down season, having a few winning streaks here and a few losing streaks there, but coach Jost is confident that his team is better than their record and that they will show it this weekend against teams like Gillette that just won a tournament in Montana against top 12U teams.

“Our guys, across the board, have battled lately,” Jost said, “hot weather, long drives, injuries, and some of the best teams in the Northern Rockies. Our record doesn’t tell the tale of our guys learning they can hang with those teams.”

And while the Trash Pandas learn to push ahead and fight through adversity, the Dirtbags are focusing on the basics of baseball to help fortify their play against some of the teams that will soon learn the name and the team as they grow throughout the rest of this season and future seasons under 307 Baseball Academy.

“The kids have been just working on playing together as a team and improving our fielding,” Dirtbags’ coach Mowrey said.

Meanwhile, the Trash Pandas are solidified in their division and their age range, which makes getting out of a slump harder than one might expect.

“At these age groups getting your head down is not only prevalent but very costly,” Trash Pandas coach Jost said, “I’m looking forward to our guys showing their grit and refusal to quit in front of their families and home crowd.”

Not to mention this will be the first tournament at the field in Riverton in years as the American Legion team plays on Roy Peck Field and the 307 Baseball Academy took over the old Senior Babe Ruth field years ago when they were formed.

The Trash Pandas have smiled through this season as they learn what it means to be a team and how to play against the toughest teams in the state

“This is our chance to create an annual baseball event for our county,” Jost said, “it’s the first tournament on that field in many years and we’re bringing kids from all over the state to take part.”

But, in the end, both teams are out on their respective diamonds looking to have fun and play the game that they know and love. 

“Whatever happens this weekend I’m confident our teams will have fun, play good baseball, and grow as teams,” Jost said. 

The two teams have similar schedules this weekend but if you’re looking to watch either the Trash Pandas or the Dirtbags look for their schedule in the FREMONT COUNTY SPORTS CALENDAR section of the paper.