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Larned Purple Panthers overcome heat, odds to win Pratt tourney
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The Larned Purple Panthers, a 13-and-under baseball team, won a wooden bats tournament in Pratt last weekend.
However that wasn’t the amazing thing. After starting the tournament with a loss, the Purple Panthers were tossed into the consolation bracket.
In 106-degree weather, Larned won six straight games on Sunday to take the championship.
Starting the tournament on Saturday, the Purple Panthers lost their first game against the Kansas Royals of Wichita, losing 9-2.
“We stressed to the kids that we had to win the first game or we’d be in the consolation bracket,” Purple Panthers head coach Lupe Perez Jr. said. “The Royals were a good team. We beat the Great Bend Desperados in the second game.”
In the second game on Saturday, Larned beat Great Bend 5-0 with pitcher Jonathan Herter getting the win.
Sunday morning, Larned’s first game began at 9. What followed was a series of wins that propelled Larned from the consolation bracket and into the championship game.
“It was hot,” Perez said. “The whole team was pretty fired up. The kids kept cool. We drank a lot of water and the kids poured water down their backs.”
By 9 p.m. on Sunday, the team had won six games over a 12-hour span with only a one-hour break.
“It was quite a Sunday,” Perez said. “We lost a player to an injury during the first game of the tournament and we lost one player to an injury in the championship game.”
In spite of the heat and the injuries, the Purple Panthers continued to roll through games.
“They were excited and fired up,” Perez said. “On Sunday, the players would chant the number to the next game after each win. It was sweet to hear them chant champions after Game 6.”

At Pratt
Larned’s results

Kansas Royals 9, Purple Panthers 2
Purple Panthers 5, Great Bend Desperados 0
Purple Panthers 6, Salina Storm 0
Purple Panthers 5, Pratt Sluggers 3
Purple Panthers 6, Wichita Royals 2
Purple Panthers 15, Southwestern Hitters 6
Purple Panthers 8, Dodge City Dodgers 0
Purple Panthers 5, Dodge City Dodgers 1