Once again, Roswell Daily Record sports has looked to bring the readers of Chaves County another perspective of the All-Star experience for our local team. This time we reached out to a mother, whose son is playing on the team. Michael Mathison is a pitcher on the team. His mother, Kendra Mathison, is a principal at All Saints Catholic school. Kendra like Ernie Lujan graciously offered to give their perspectives as a mom and dad to RDR Sports.
“Our family loves sports!” Kendra Mathison said. “We have been watching our four kids, Logan, twins Emily and Sarah, and Michael. They have all played sports they love for 20 years and are still going strong. Along the way, we’ve had many wonderful moments with all of our kids, especially our older three.
“Some moments include watching our oldest son, Logan Mathison and his Goddard teammates win the 2017 State High School Championship in baseball, to watching our twin girls play in the State Championship in 2018 for their high school soccer team.
“This summer, we have had the opportunity to watch our youngest son, Michael, play on an All-Star baseball team with an amazing group of young men and three amazing coaches. What a ride it has been. This team is very special because of its make-up with players from both Lions Hondo Little League and Noon Optimist Little League. They work very well together and have played some amazing baseball.
“It’s all worth it,” Kendra said of giving up her summer. “Our summer revolves around our kids. The national championship is on Saturday and the World Championship is on Sunday, so everyone will be back before school starts.”
“Making it to the Regional Tournament in Houston, Texas, was fantastic and exciting, but much work had to be done behind the scenes to make this happen. Every parent on the team pitched in and helped secure donations to help the team get everything they needed and be able to be in Houston for the duration of the tournament! Citizens of Roswell, you are amazing and your support has been such a blessing. We can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done!
“Winning the Regional Championship was phenomenal! We got to celebrate with our boys after that game, but then quickly held a parent meeting back at our hotel to discuss the plans as we knew our boys would be heading to the World Series!
“Information was limited to how soon the boys and coaches would be flying to California. Parents quickly got uniforms and other clothes washed at the hotel and packed up the boys so they would be ready to go. The next morning, we got word the boys would be flying out of Houston early the next day.
“At that time, parents left Houston to get back to Roswell and make travel arrangements to get to Livermore, California. For us, leaving our son, Michael in Houston was a bit emotional. We’d never done that before. My husband, Barry, and I knew that until their World Series journey ended, he wouldn’t be staying with us in our hotel room, but at another hotel with his teammates and coaches. Michael is under the care of Little League. We were full of so many different emotions. In hindsight, the whirlwind of everything that had to be done to get to Livermore helped keep our minds occupied.
“Less than 24 hours after we got home from Houston, we got back in the car, with four more passengers this time, (grandparents and two of Michael’s siblings), and drove 18 hours straight to Livermore to be there in time to attend the Oakland A’s game where the boys were kicking off their World Series.
“It was hard leaving our oldest son, Logan Mathison behind, due to work commitments, because getting this far was a dream of his at this age. He is so proud of his little brother for making it to the series and really wanted to be in California to watch. At the Oakland A’s game, we were able to see Michael for the first time since Thursday when we left Houston.
“We were so happy to see him and hear about his experience so far. He (and his teammates) looked so sharp in their new, bright orange and yellow Southwest jerseys and ball caps. It was surreal to realize that our son was there enjoying this experience with his teammates and making new friends from other teams around the world.
“These are young men that he will remember for a lifetime. Michael shared with us that they had become good friends with the team from Australia and our boys loved their accent! One of the things we immediately noticed with him was how much he had matured in just a few days. It may sound strange, but it was real. We were only able to visit with him for a little while until we had to go to our own seats as the All-Star teams sat together at the game.
“Saturday, we went to Max Baer Park, where the World Series is held, and caught the tail end of our team’s practice. We were surprised the complex was just like any other Little League complex — nothing too fancy. There are trailers with World Series merchandise off to one side and behind that is where the players and coaches are fed in a restricted area.
“They have a concession stand and some other food vendors, but, overall, it’s pretty simple. After being charged admission to our games in Houston, we were pleasantly surprised that all World Series games are open to the public with no admission.
“There is plenty of covered seating for all to enjoy the games. The one difference is the camera mounted behind home plate, the cameraman down the first baseline, the third baseline, and another in centerfield, which increases the excitement and relays the importance of what is actually happening at this ballpark in California.
We relayed to anyone we could back in Roswell how the game was going to be aired, which is on ESPN Plus, their streaming service with play-by-play announcing. We had a bye for the first round, which began on Sunday.
Our first game was on Monday afternoon and we were excited, but our nerves were being tested as well. I kept telling myself, it’s just another game, but then my mind would immediately think — ‘this is the World Series!’ I really was a bundle of nerves. Throughout this entire journey, I have kept a scorebook to have as a memento for Michael.
“This has also helped calm me, giving me something to do other than just sit and watch. This was especially helpful when I learned that Michael was the starting pitcher for this first game. Any mom who has a son who pitches knows the anxiety! He did his job and was pulled to conserve on pitching for later in the tournament. Managing pitchers and pitch counts is a tricky challenge for coaches, a job I wouldn’t want to have, but our coaches are doing a fantastic job handling this task. Our first game did not go as we had hoped, but our boys learned and grew. Expecting them to be down after the game, they were actually OK and ready for day two.
“Game two was Tuesday where we faced a team from Petaluma, California. We, again, were really nervous but excited. We all wanted a win! We were on pins and needles the entire game. The boys got a good lead early in the game and everyone was able to breathe a little, but then the California team came back and tied it up.
“Our boys battled through, scoring two runs late in the game, putting us up by two. They were able to hold them off and we got the win, keeping us in the tournament. There was such a sigh of relief when our boys got the last out to end the game.
“A win! Our boys just won their first game in the World Series. We celebrated with the boys after the game, took pictures and once the excitement settled, we were able to spend some quality time with our boys. Michael said he just wanted to be with his family. Although having a great time with his teammates, he really needed some family time and so did we.
“Game three was against the host team, District 57 Livermore Little League. Once again, we arrived at the fields full of excitement and nerves. We all took our places in the bleachers and loosened up a bit with the great music they were playing pre-game. This seemed to help calm everyone today. Everyone, though nervous, seemed a bit more relaxed today. The game was another close one and at the end of the seven innings, we came away with a 7-5 win. Our stands erupted with cheers when the boys got the final out of the game.
“We are enjoying the experience and trying to take it all in. We are so proud of this group of young men who have had to overcome things on and off the field, they’ve done it together and have each grown and matured in their own way throughout this journey. We are confident they will walk away from this having a strong bond and friendships to last a lifetime. We are blessed to have this experience.
Southwest will play the loser of Wednesday’s game between Southeast and Central, at 7 p.m. tonight.